Courtney Laker has enjoyed a whirlwind start to training thanks to her beloved gelding Curly James.
The pacer provided the young Kialla horsewoman with victory as her very first starter in a race at Melton in August and the pair head back to Victorian harness racing headquarters this Saturday to tackle the likes of Catch A Wave and Bulletproof Boy in the Mimosa Homes Gammalite Free For All.
Curly James' last run was in the Kilmore Cup on September 29, with the horse finishing at the back end of the field.
"He was a bit sore in a couple of spots, so we looked after him and got it treated and gave him a week or so easy," Laker, who also owns Curly James, said.
"We got him back to work and he's been pretty good in himself and happy with himself. He's looking good."
The five-year-old gelding heads into the race as a $10 chance with the TAB behind favourite Catch A Wave, who is $1.30.
"He's back on track at the moment. I've been pretty happy with how he has been working and leading up into the race," she said.
"I think he's got a good chance, but honestly Catch A Wave will be hard to beat in that race."
Curly James has drawn barrier four, with driver David Moran likely to press the button and use the horse's early gate speed.
"I think if he could possibly find the front, I think he will take a bit of running down," she said.
Laker's dreams of becoming a trainer have come true, with the 19-year-old already boasting a metropolitan winner and more than $24,000 in prizemoney earnings.
"I actually love doing what I do," she said.
"I left school at quiet a young age to follow my passion and my dream. I've been through a couple of stables and learned a lot from a lot of people, but David (Moran)… I really learned a lot from David.
"Having David by my side guiding me the right ways on how to train a horse, how to care for horses and how to get them ready for the races has been a big help in my career."
Curly James will compete in the second event on Saturday night's card from Melton Entertainment Park, which lands shortly before star mare Ladies In Red lines up in The Angelique in race four.