Perseverance and faith had their dividend when a horse who had the equine equivalent of the last rites delivered to him scored his first win in two years at Caulfield on Wednesday.
The Mark Kavanagh-trained Undeniably had shown considerable promise before suffering a bout of travel sickness after a float trip to Adelaide.
The illness, in which fluid builds up in a horse's lungs, seemed certain to end Undeniably's career, if not his life.
But the tireless work of vets and stable staff brought the six-year-old back from the brink to fulfil part of a carefully-planned coup in the Listed Christmas Stakes (1200m).
After Undeniably finished second to stablemate Catapulted at his previous start, Kavanagh announced that the runner-up would be set for the Christmas Stakes and the winner for the Standish Handicap to be run at Flemington on New Years Day.
"This was a big win for the horse," said Kavanagh's foreman Merv Harvey.
"We thought he was finished when he had the travel sickness ... he had the last rites read to him.
"We'd almost given up a couple of times, but he's shown he's a tough horse today."
Undeniably also had to overcome his habit of racing too keenly, a problem rider Jake Noonan solved with a carefully thought-out ride.
"He needed to relax, which hasn't been easy for him," Noonan said.
"At the same time he needs room to give his best.
"Today I was confident as a long as they gave him some space at the right time."
Noonan found the cover and the galloping room, delivering Undeniably ($7) by three-quarters of a length from Sea Lord ($6.50) with a long head to Youbolt ($17) in third.
A disregard for the weights and measures of racing worked for consistent mare Bells Of Troy who took out the Frank O'Brien Handicap (2000m).
Trainer Wendy Kelly acknowledged she had taken a risk in running Bells Of Troy in a race in which the conditions were solidly against her.
"She was probably a couple of kilos worse off in this race then she needed to be," Kelly said.
"But she's been racing so well and she was meeting off-season mares that I took the chance."
Bells Of Troy ($31) came from last to collar the favourite Streets Of Seattle ($3.60) in the final 25m to score by a long neck.
Euryale ($4.40) held third, a further three lengths away.
"She's been promising to do this for a while, I only hope we haven't made it too difficult for her to do it again."