As Bart Cummings walked out to greet Oaks winner Faint Perfume, the filly's owner Dato Tan Chin Nam sat quietly, reflecting on his close friend.
Temporarily confined to a wheelchair after suffering ligament damage in a fall, Dato Tan smiled when asked what made Cummings great.
"He is a tiger," Dato Tan said.
"He gets better with age. He is mellow like a good wine."
Dato Tan and Cummings have been together for four decades. It is a partnership that seems to be glued together by humour.
Cummings will celebrate his 82nd birthday in little more than a week, Dato Tan admits to being a couple of years older.
So far this spring, the black and white colours representing Dato Tan's other passion, chess, have been carried to victory by So You Think in the Cox Plate, Viewed in the Caulfield Cup and Faint Perfume.
The only hiccup was the Melbourne Cup when as well as Viewed, Dato Tan had shares in two other unplaced runners.
Faint Perfume is particularly close to his heart.
"I bred her, her grandmother is Danendri," he said.
Danendri won an AJC Australian Oaks after running a close second in the Derby.
Dato Tan has high hopes for another Melbourne Cup, maybe with Faint Perfume, maybe with 2008 winner Viewed. He will be back at Flemington on Saturday to watch So You Think run in the Emirates Stakes. His opinion of the colt is high.
"He is a very, very important horse," he said. "He has the body of an older horse. He is still really a two-year-old.
"I think he will be back next year and this filly too and maybe Viewed.
"I look forward to it."
So You Think will turn three on November 10, four days before Cummings' birthday.
Neither Dato Tan nor Cummings give any thought to slowing down as they get older.
Although he has retired as the active head of his international construction business, Dato Tan has invested heavily in Think Big Stud south of Sydney with big dreams for the future.
Cummings is also enjoying himself.
"It's been a rewarding spring," he said with some understatement.
Faint Perfume's win took Cummings' Group One tally to 257, with seven of those victories in the 12 months since Viewed won the Melbourne Cup.
The filly was the dominant favourite in the Oaks and Cummings the overwhelming favourite with the crowd of 80,112.
The cool conditions didn't deter those who wanted to show off their high fashion, with colour galore.But the stage really belonged to the two distinguished gentlemen who just like to enjoy themselves at the races.
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