Star filly Mosheen provided reassurance to her trainer and a warning to her rivals when she made her public reappearance at yesterday's Cranbourne trials.
Mosheen wasn't asked by jockey Danny Nikolic to do a lot in finishing third in an 800m heat on a bog track, but it was enough.
"She was always in her comfort zone but still had a good gallop," trainer Robert Smerdon said.
"Danny Nikolic rides her in all her work as well as her races, he's our barometer, and he said she was very happy, very strong."
The VRC Oaks, Australian Guineas and Randwick Guineas winner hasn't raced since winning the Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill in April.
Smerdon said he hadn't made a final decision on a race for Mosheen's return.
"I thought she might have been a bit behind before today," he said. "But she showed us today that she's on track."
Mosheen is likely to have another barrier trial in two weeks before beginning a campaign that connections hope will culminate in the WS Cox Plate (2040m).
"We think she's a Cox Plate horse and that's the race her preparation is aimed at," Smerdon said.
"The thing about her is that she's got a great capacity for racing and work, so we have plenty of options."
The daughter of Fastnet Rock finishes the current racing season among the top six horses in Australia, having accumulated more than $2.6 million in her first two seasons.
She would more than double that figure if all goes to plan in her four-year-old season.
Meanwhile, dual Group 1- winning sprinter Atomic Force will be an early spring visitor to Melbourne after proving his fitness in a barrier trial at Randwick.
The winner of the 2011 Galaxy and the Railway Stakes in New Zealand on New Year's Day, Atomic Force was ruled out of the autumn with a knee strain.
Nash Rawiller, who rode him to his Group 1 wins, partnered the Darren Smith-trained gelding in the trial. "Today he went through his gears and let down and obviously won the trial with a little bit in hand," Rawiller said.
"I would have liked something to have been chasing me a bit closer to the line but he feels good, he did everything right today and I couldn't be happier.
"I think it will do his confidence the world of good coming back from injury."
The options for Atomic Force's return are a Listed 1000m race at Moonee Valley on August 25 or The Heath, a Listed race over 1100m at Caulfield a week later which he won last year.
"She was always in her comfort zone but still had a good gallop.""Trainer *Robert Smerdon *
Australian Associated Press