Star hurdler Black And Bent takes an important step on his road back to jumps racing when he returns from injury in a flat race at Caulfield on Saturday.
Trainer Robert Smerdon said the next six weeks would be telling for Black And Bent as it was important to see how the gelding handled the pressure of races before looking to return to the jumps.
Black And Bent equalled Lots Of Time's Australian record of nine consecutive jumps wins with victory in the Galleywood Hurdle last May at Warrnambool before a tendon injury later forced him off the scene.
"Warrnambool will come up too quickly, so it would be the other side of that," Smerdon said, looking ahead to when Black And Bent could return to race for his 10th consecutive jumps win.
Black And Bent's injury last year was the second time he had suffered a tendon injury in his near fore leg.
The seven-year-old will line up in Saturday's Sky High Mt Dandenong Handicap (1400m) having been given plenty of time to build up to a return.
"He's had a long, steady build-up after a long time off," Smerdon said.
"He was out on the water walker for a good while and has been back at Caulfield for a long time.
"We haven't done any jumping with him, we've just been building up on the flat and getting some flat miles into his legs.
"The next six weeks will tell the story of how sound he's going to be, but it's good to have him back."
Smerdon said he would "play it by ear" how many flat races Black And Bent has, and see how he handles it, before looking at a return to jumping.
Black And Bent is the outsider in the field on Saturday with stakes winner British General favourite.
The feature race on the Caulfield program is the Listed Thoroughbred Club Cup (1200m) where Smerdon has Go The Knuckle entered.
"We're still tossing up whether to run or not," Smerdon said.
Go The Knuckle was a close second to Loveyamadly in a Listed race at Moonee Valley last Friday night.