Trotting's excitement machine Oscar Bonavena is back and his autumn is about to get a lot busier.
The horse once rated New Zealand's best trotter returns in the $20,000 mobile mile at Addington on Saturday, after more than a year off the scene.
The now 5-year-old has raced since falling flat during an Australian campaign last season after which he was found to have a bone chip in his knee.
He has been given plenty of time off since but trotted his last 800m in 56.8s to beat Cracker Hill, who resumes at Wyndham on Thursday, in a recent Ashburton trial.
"We are really happy with him and Mark [Purdon] drove him last week and said he was ready to go," says new trainer Hayden Cullen.
"We almost thought of giving him another trial, but with a couple of the better trotters missing this Saturday, it's a good kickoff point."
Oscar Bonavena may not have to take on Bolt For Brilliance, Sundees Son or Majestic Man this week but he will start from barrier six, the outside of the front line, at the very tricky Addington mobile mile start point because of the preferential draw conditions of the race.
Safely through this week, he has the option of the New Zealand Trotting Champs next week, as well as a trip to Auckland for the Anzac and Rowe Cups.
"Auckland is definitely looking more likely now that he's come up so well, so he could be going there," said Cullen.
Oscar Bonavena has won 12 of his 19 starts here and has rare raw speed but has almost been a victim of that, with his reputation getting so big, anything but a win was considered disappointing, even when he stepped straight into open class.
With those ranks now containing so many top-class horses, he should at least have the chance to be treated as an equal rather than a superstar who has to win every time.
Saturday night's meeting also hosts the $100,000 Easter Cup, with Amazing Dream, Spankem and Self Assured to clash again.