At the 100m mark in the $200,000 Windsor Park Plate at Hastings on Saturday, champion mare Melody Belle had a choice to make.
Headed by her younger stablemate Avantage, was Melody Belle going to concede, giving up her crown as the Queen of New Zealand racing, or was she going to fight to remind us all how she got that title in the first place?
She chose to do what champions do, craning her neck out to record the 11th Group 1 victory of her remarkable career, worth over $3.6million and with the promise of more to come.
This was a race Melody Belle wasn't supposed to even be in and maybe if she was the same force as last year, when she won a Group 1 at Flemington, she wouldn't have been.
The six-year-old punters' darling should have been in Sydney chasing their riches, but two substandard performances to start her season saw her return home with her career at a crossroads.
A quiet trial win last week saw her connections pay a late entry fee into today's Group 1 but it was only on Thursday that trainer Jamie Richards starts to believe Melody Belle was regaining her spark.
That spark ignited at the top of the Hastings straight as she first ran down a brave Callsign Mav then clawed back her title when Avantage briefly edged passed her, and now Melody Belle sits just two wins behind Sunline as our greatest Group 1 winner.
The margin was only a nose but the crown was safe.
Melody Belle will get a crack at edging closer to Sunline in the Livamol Classic back at Hastings on October 17 and with her class, ability to win from 1400m to 2040m at the elite level, and the fact she can handle any type of track conditions, she has a realistic shot to win more Group 1 than any thoroughbred to be trained in New Zealand.
Avantage lost little but stable bragging rights in defeat while away from the placegetters Two Illicit, Prise De Fer and a luckless Supera all suggested the 2040m of the Livamol will suit them better.
But while the story of the race was Melody Belle, hers wasn't the only special comeback.
She was ridden by Troy Harris, whose career has had plenty of ups and downs but whose talent has never been in doubt.
Harris has worked hard to come back from a shoulder operation and Richards was quick to credit not only his ride but his perseverance.
"He is a proper horseman," said Richards.
Earlier in the day Aegon threw down the gauntlet to the spring three-year-olds when he came from a seemingly hopeless position to win the $100,000 Hawke's Bay Guineas.
Having just his second start he looked no chance at the 300m mark when seventh and flat footed but he roared home the last 100m to win the race that put his late sire Sacred Falls on the map.
A $150,000 purchase at the Karaka sales where he was found by co-trainer and part-owner Andrew Forsman, Aegon is majority owned by the Zame family, who are obviously Game Of Thrones fans as they also raced former ATC Derby winner Jon Snow.
The victory saw Aegon rocket to equal head of the markets for the 2000 Guineas at Riccarton in November.