As someone who's only been to three race meetings in the past five years, it's not the buzz of the crowd or the thrill of watching a winner that Pete Nestor has missed.
The daily work around the stables is what the veteran horseman loves and it's something he's back around now after returning to life as a trainer.
A former top bush trainer who helped develop jockeys like Group 1 winner Kathy O'Hara, Nestor gave up his licence in 2018 but is back living at Dubbo after a stint in Sydney.
He'll return to the races on Sunday with Loving Angel, one of only two horses to his name.
"I'm just fiddling around with two. It makes me get out of bed in the morning," he said.
"Going to the races doesn't really interest me much. I've been to three race meetings in five years and I just enjoy working with the horses.
"I'd be happy if someone else took them to races and I'd just stay at home mucking out the boxes for them.
"But I'll go Sunday, for sure."
Nestor trained successfully in Dubbo for roughly 40 years but finished up in 2018 and made the move to Sydney to try a new venture.
That was helping run a spelling and rehab centre for horses at Luddenham but after doing that for four years, the call of the country was too much for Nestor to ignore.
"I was never going to stay there forever, that's for sure, and I missed the kids and grandkids and the bush," he said.
"I'm back in Dubbo. I like the bush and it's hard to get it out of your system."
The racing scene at Dubbo is vastly different to the one Nestor left five years ago.
The Country Championships have continued to grow, the rich Kosciuszko has been introduced and prizemoney continues to rise.
Young trainers like Clint Lundholm and Brett Robb, and previously Peter's nephew Kody Nestor, have put Dubbo's name up in lights while contesting major races and have their stables and businesses in a professional manor far different to those in the bush many years ago.
Nestor's small team - he's been getting some assistance from fellow trainer Natalie Pearce - pales in comparison but he's proud to see the new generation making an impact.
"They're two good boys," Nestor said of Lundholm and Robb.
"They've dived in head first and they've got big teams. I never had big teams, I only ever fiddled with eight-to-a-dozen horses so that's a big commitment.
"It's all-consuming, the racing game and they've got to do a lot of miles so I give them a pat on the back and they deserve all the success they have, that's for sure.
"We're lucky we've got a couple of good young trainers like that in town."
Nestor will go up against Robb at Mudgee on Sunday in the Brookvale Union Koala Crown Country Boosted Maiden Plate (1100m).
Robb will have Staying Power while Nestor will saddle up Loving Angel, a former Peter and Paul Snowden galloper who caught the eye when winning a trial at Wellington last week.
Prior to the trial, the now four-year-old mare had not raced since February of 2022.
"I didn't really want to trial her last week but I had no options," Nestor said.
"I've been out of the game a long while and the rules change. The rules say if it's been more than 12 months without a trial or start they must barrier trial so I was trying to keep her a little quiet but we had to trial her and she's a little mare who only has two speeds, stop and go flat out.
"She looked pretty impressive winning the trial but we won't get too carried away. I've never received a pay cheque winning a trial so we'll see what happens Sunday.
"If she turns up and doesn't beat herself she'll be very, very competitive."
Whether she "turns up" is one of the big questions as Nestor said he's discovered Loving Angel is "a bit of a head case" and is "not the easiest mare to do things with".
The other horse Nestor currently has is Star Of Lullar, a three-year-old gelding which started life with trainer Matthew Dunn but is still yet to contest a trial or race.
Clayton Gallagher will take the ride on Loving Angel from gate six on Sunday after riding the mare to her trial win at Wellington.
The first race at Mudgee's country showcase meeting on Sunday is at 1.10pm.
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