Not a lot went right for Khalifa at Caulfield on Saturday - which made his win in a heat of the Summer Championship all the more impressive.
Khalifa jumped awkwardly, raced outside the leader and was put under full pressure before jockey Michael Rodd would have liked.
But he still had enough in hand to score, and to promise better races are within sight.
"That wasn't the way to ride him," Rodd said.
"He's going to be a lot better when he has cover and comes with one swooping run."
Rodd was also concerned he had to encourage the best out of Khalifa to get him over the line in a tight finish
"I had to cut him in half and I hate hitting them hard," he said.
Khalifa, the $2.25 favourite, scored his fourth win in six starts, beating Cornell ($14) by a long neck with a head to Finishing Card ($6) in third.
While Khalifa has undoubted ability, the Mark Kavanagh stable views him as a "day-to-day" proposition.
"He's already gone through a lot with a tendon injury and a couple of other things," said foreman Merv Harvey.
"He'd have been better off with more speed which he'll probably get in better races."
The dilemma for Kavanagh is whether to extend Khalifa to 1600m, a distance that Rodd said would suit him, or to concentrate on keeping him fresh and restricting him to sprint trips.
"We're going to have to think about it a lot," Rodd said.'
"He's a seriously good horse, but he has those issues."
AAP TURF mh/w