By his own admission, northern Victorian horseman David Hayes was wondering 12 months ago what it was like to train a winner.
But as the stable celebrated its 150th success of the season at Caulfield on Saturday, Melbourne's seven-time champion trainer had become familiar with the old feeling.
The milestone victory for the stable that once dominated Melbourne racing came in the listed Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) courtesy of Pago Rock and Chad Schofield, the jockey most closely associated with Hayes' resurgence.
"Everyone knows how things were for us a year or so ago," said stable foreman Bruno Rouge-Serret.
"But David had faith in himself and everyone at the farm and it's turned around in a big way since the grass track went in last Christmas."
Pago Rock will probably not be remembered as one of the main saviours of the Hayes training operation, but his Monash win represents the magnitude of the turnaround.
He had an erratic few moments in the final 250m before scoring by a length from Elite Elle ($8.50) with another 1 lengths to Second Effort ($9), who came from last to take third.
Hayes will target similar black-type races in the next month with Pago Rock, who is likely to then make way for the stable's main spring hopes.
"We'll have about 130 in training in the spring ... some really nice horses, a lot of nice 3-year-olds, some nice young ones," Rouge-Serret said.