The return of Sainthood at Rosehill on Saturday is not just a training triumph for Rick Worthington.
It is also a new dawn.
The horseman is emerging from a tough period in his life, personally and professionally, and he hopes Sainthood’s comeback in the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) is a good omen.
A couple of years ago Worthington had a handy team headed by stakes performers Whitefriars and Sainthood.
Whitefriars has not raced since claiming the Group Two Australia Stakes in January 2011 while Sainthood has had just one start since that year’s Brisbane winter carnival.
The pair succumbed to the same problem – subchondral bone soreness – and there is no cure.
“The only things to treat it with are ice, anti-inflammatories and time. And when you’re talking time it’s got to be a lot of time,” Worthington said.
“Whether you’re an animal or human, bone soreness is debilitating.”
Compounding the issues with his star horses have been personal ones which have meant Worthington had to “almost deconstruct” his stable and rebuild it.
“It all sort of happened at the same time,” Worthington said.
“The last 12 months for me have been the worst 12 months of my life.”
Despite his challenges, Worthington is philosophical.
The issues faced by Whitefriars and Sainthood have helped him develop and grow and he is hoping the latter’s return coincides with a change in the stable’s fortunes.
“Some jobs are easy jobs and easy money,” he said.
“Others make you think. It teaches you as a person and a horseman.
“We’ve had three winners in the last couple of weeks and my mission now is to rebuild the stable and get back on track.”
Worthington isn’t predicting a miracle win in the Starlight but he is adamant Sainthood won’t be disgraced.
“The horse is really well, his work is very pleasing,” Worthington said.
“I thought it best not to trial him so he will no doubt improve from the run going into the Concorde, as he will going from the Concorde into a race like the Bill Ritchie.
“The positives for Saturday are there should be genuine speed, he can tuck away and keep out of trouble, come off the back of them and be doing his best work late.”
Worthington also revealed Whitefriars was just weeks away from returning to his stable and would be readied for a comeback early next year provided his body stands up to the demands of a preparation.
That is also the question mark hanging over Sainthood.
“At the end of the day he might go sore again but at least I can say `I gave it my best shot and it’s just not meant to be’,” Worthington said.