A leisurely spring is to be followed by a much more serious autumn for the German import Pakal who has capped his first Australian preparation with an impressive victory in Sunday's Cranbourne Cup.
Trainer Mick Price is likely to set Pakal for the Group One BMW in Sydney in April, a race he believes will suit a horse he said has presented him with special challenges.
"It's been a challenge training him, learning about him, these are very interesting horses," Price said.
Price might have been entitled to think he had worked Pakal out after he scored his first Australian win at Caulfield in August, but the horse continues to be a work in progress even after Sunday's success.
"It's been very satisfying, but there's more to work to do with him," he said.
"I wanted to give him a quiet spring and then bring him back for the autumn."
Aided by a typically mercurial Glen Boss ride, Pakal ($4.60 fav) scored by 2-1/4 lengths from Sertorius who nosed out Mourinho for second.
Boss had Pakal in a perfect spot from his inside gate for the first half of the 2025m race, but got shuffled back soon after passing the halfway mark.
The pair reached the top of the short Cranbourne straight with half the field ahead of them but with a run appearing on the fence which Boss seized.
For Boss the satisfaction in the win almost equalled that of the trainer.
"I've spent a lot of time with this horse on the training track getting to know him, trying to get him sorted out," Boss said.
"No-one's seen his true ability. Today was the first time he's got close to showing it."
Pakal began his career in Germany and had also raced in Switzerland, France and Turkey before being purchased by OTI Racing headed by former Test cricketer Simon O'Donnell and Terry Henderson who rank among the country's most astute buyers of foreign gallopers.