Sawyers Gully trainer Darryl Thomas believes a fighting fourth in elite company in the Ballarat Cup (450m) could be the making of rising star La Grand Quality.
Out of box four, La Grand Quality, an equal $3.50 favourite on NSW TAB Fixed Odds, was checked shortly after the start on Saturday night by runner-up Whiskey Riot but fought back from sixth to finish three lengths off winner Western Envoy.
The light fawn dog had seven wins in 11 starts and was the fastest heat victor in the group 2 final.
It was the Maitland 450m track record-holder's first test at group level and Thomas was thrilled with the performance. They will return for heats of the group 2 Warragul Cup on January 3.
"I was rapt with his run," Thomas said. "He got belted and basically put out of the race after 10 yards. You can't give those dogs that start.
"He was massive. They were running record splits for the first and second sections, and he exploded off the bend to take ground off them.
"The dog's got confidence out of it. He's come from nowhere to race the best in the country, so hopefully he'll win one of these cups, but I think this run will make him."
Meanwhile, Thomas will welcome back Rockin' Georgia to racing on Tuesday.
The winner of five races in seven starts has box one in the third at Gosford, where it holds the 388m track record.
She has not raced since August 31 and Thomas expected her to make a strong return.