As a three-year-old Rising Red was a typical New Zealand stayer, tall and skinny. But after a little over a year on the sidelines the transformation from what his co-trainer calls a boy into a racehorse has been remarkable.
Rising Red hasn't raced since finishing second to Gingernuts in the 2017 New Zealand Derby and makes his return in the Listed March Stakes at Flemington on Saturday.
Cranbourne-based Trent Busuttin, who prepares the gelding with his partner Natalie Young, says he can't believe the transformation.
"I've never seen a horse come back like he has," Busuttin said.
"He's was a skinny, typical New Zealand, rangy stayer.
"He was a boy, now he's the best looking horse you'll ever see."
Rising Red suffered a suspensory injury which ruled him out of last year's Sydney autumn carnival.
Busuttin said such an injury was better than one one to a tendon, but the four-year-old had not been put under a lot of pressure ahead of his comeback.
"We've been very generous with him in his work and his trials," Busuttin said.
"He hasn't been let off the bridle with that injury in mind.
"He'll have had nearly 13 months out by the time he gets to the races so he'll have a day out and I expect he'll blow out, but the main thing is he pulls up sound."
Rising Red has been nominated for next month's Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick.
Busuttin said a more realistic path was to stay in Melbourne with a possible trip to Brisbane in the winter.
But the trainer is already looking ahead to the Melbourne spring.
"We can give him two or three runs now, get him back racing as he'll be a bit ring-rusty," Busuttin said.
"We've got no lofty ambitions at this stage but I'm already looking forward to the spring to see what he might do then."