People didn't get to see the real Westlink last preparation, according to Darren Hyde, but the Dubbo trainer is hopeful things will be better this time in.
A former Country Championships finalist, Westlink will return to the track on Friday at Scone's showcase meeting.
It will be his first start since a seventh-placed finish at Qurindi last November, a race which brought the curtain down on a disappointing preparation.
It had looked promising when he destroyed a high calibre field of country sprinters first-up at Dubbo and that resulted in Hyde fielding countless calls enquiring about Westlink's Kosciuszko availability.
A spot in the richest race for country horses never materialised though after a string of poor results but after back-to-back trial wins at his home track this month Hyde heads to Scone in an optimistic mood.
"I think that [first-up win] might have taken too much out of him," Hyde said of last preparation.
"He never improved. He got worse and that wasn't him."
The trainer is taking a more measured approach this time in, spacing out the two trial runs and the hope is to target city races should Westlink get through Friday unscathed.
The meeting has been switched to Scone from a rain-affected Tamworth track and Westlink will contest the final event of the day, the Darley Open Showcase Handicap (1100m).
"There's no faults and I'm happy with where he's at," Hyde said.
"It's a good field tomorrow [Friday] but if I'm taking him to Sydney he's got to be competitive there otherwise it will be a waste of time."
The Kosciuszko was never in the plans for Hyde heading into last preparation but after the first-up showing the shorter-course events became a focus.
His strong Country Championships heat win at Dubbo came over 1400m and that distance or even a little further is likely to be where he ends up again this time in.
Ash Morgan will take the ride on Friday, with Westlink having drawn gate seven.
He will carry 55kg and that was key in Hyde's decision to go to Scone rather than Newcastle on Saturday, where the five-year-old gelding had also been nominated.
Westlink would have had to carry 61.5kg at Newcastle.
"I didn't want him to draw wide [at Newcastle] and have a gut buster and be back at square one," Hyde said.
Westlink isn't the lone Dubbo-trained hope in Friday's event at Scone, with the Clint Lundholm-trained Good Time Charlie stepping up after impressive back-to-back wins in his last two starts.
Hyde also has Spilia set for Sunday's meeting at Dubbo Turf Club.
Group 1 winner Jay Ford will take the ride on former Victoria Spilia, who ran third on debut for Hyde earlier this month.
"His mother is a half-sister to Black Caviar and he's out of Pierro and was a $400,000 yearling," Hyde said.
"He's very nice and has been working too good not be able to win that."
Dropping back from 1600m to 1400m on Sunday is Hyde's only query, with the original goal having been to race at Coonamble's meeting on Sunday prior to it being a washout.
The return of his stable star, Westlink, and the potential shown by Spilia has been welcomed by Hyde as he set to lose a number of horses from his stables.
A number of owners have been hit hard financially by COVID-19 and have been left with no choice but to take back their horses.
Friday's race at Scone jumps at 4.35pm.