Well-being and attitude will be trainer Paul Messara's most precise guide to the chances of veteran sprinter Mic Mac ending a four-year absence from the winner's list at Rosehill on Saturday.
One of Australia's best sprinter-milers in his prime, Mic Mac will be trying to revive a career interrupted by injury when he contests the $100,000 Listed Civic Stakes (1350m).
Even if he can't notice it on the training track, Messara insists the rising eight-year-old still has something to offer.
"He's never a great trackworker so you don't see much on the training paddocks but he's fitter and healthy and we expect him to race well on Saturday," Messara said.
Messara was taken with Mic Mac's last-start fourth in the June Stakes when the gelding made ground from the back.
It confirmed Mic Mac still has ambitions to be a racehorse, while providing Messara with the platform for some continuity in a campaign for the first since becoming the horse's trainer after the 2010 Sydney autumn carnival.
"He's been plagued with injuries over the past two years and it's been difficult to get any sort of run on with him," Messara said.
As the winner of the 2009 Memsie Stakes and a placegetter in two Group One races, Mic Mac has the best record of any galloper in the eight-horse Civic Stakes field.
Messara says he also has legs that will have no comparison in the parade ring.
"He's probably got the worst legs ever in terms of conformation so he's always susceptible to little injuries," the trainer said.
Mic Mac has drawn a middle gate and Messara expects jockey Christian Reith to have the seven-time winner much closer to the speed on Saturday.
"He, unusually, jumped poorly last start but I would expect him to race in the first four on Saturday providing he jumps well," Messara said.
Mic Mac, a $15 chance in first markets, will have to give weight to all of his rivals in a field which includes three runners for trainer Chris Waller.
Waller will be represented by last-start winner Said Com, Nocturnelle and the in-form Disciple.
The trio occupy three of the top four places in first markets with Said Com ($3.60) favourite ahead of Nocturnelle and Under The Sun who are at $4.60.