Group 1 Sportsbet Melbourne Cup heat contender Here Comes Milli doesn’t turn two years old until January 9, and the lightly-raced youngster only made her first appearance on a city track last month.
Melbourne Cup glory certainly wasn't on astute Maffra trainer Des Douch's radar when Here Comes Milli ran 3rd at her Sandown debut on October 12 as an $18 outsider.
But fast forward six weeks and the daughter of Bernardo and multiple G1 finalist Brueghelino has since reeled off four straight victories at the home of the Melbourne Cup."If you'd asked me a month ago I would've been happy to win a Grade 5 at Sandown with her."
She's led all-the-way on each occasion, clocking (in order) 29.47sec, 29.43sec, 29.34sec and 29.47sec, with first splits of 5.05sec, 4.98sec, 5.04sec and 5.04sec, respectively.
"If you'd asked me a month ago I would've been happy to win a Grade 5 at Sandown with her," Douch said.
"Her improvement has just been incredible. She's jumped out of the ground.
"It's a great thrill. We're one race away from being in a Melbourne Cup."
Here Comes Milli's most recent success came in last Saturday's final round of Cup preludes where she dug deep to defy Tinker Norm, with favourite Schillaci running fourth.
Here Comes Milli took another huge step towards Melbourne Cup glory when she drew the prized rails alley for Saturday night's fifth heat (race 9, 9.25pm).
As a result of her sparkling front-running Sandown form and box one, Here Comes Milli is Sportsbet's $3.60 second elect, behind Jason Thompson's NSW recruit Rocket Riot (box 3) at $3, while she's $21 in 'All In' betting.
The youngster's heat rivals also include defending Cup champion Yachi Bale (box 5) at $4.80.
"She's got the early speed and she's so tough; she just keeps giving and giving," said Douch.
"I think she just loves the competition. When they're coming at her, she wants it. It's the same with humans and horses, some handle pressure and some don't. She loves it!
"Her first step is to the right, but the dog in the two (Rock Me Rocco) is a bit slow and steps to the right too.
"I'd like to see her leave the straight in front and miss any trouble. If she gets to the front she'll be right in it.
"I've been in one (Melbourne) Cup before. Notorious Mac made the final in 2018, when I'd only been in the game for four or five years. Unfortunately, he drew box four and came last."
Douch also has a second sparingly-raced Cup aspirant in Spot Fox, which will exit box seven in heat three (race 7, 8.42pm).
Spot Fox, which is by Bernardo, as is Here Comes Milli, has even less experience than his kennelmate, winning six of his 11 starts.
Spot Fox is a $15 chance in a heat market dominated by $2 favourite Flying Zulu (box 1) and Million Dollar Chase winner and Topgun runner-up Jay Is Jay (box 4) at $3.90.
But as is the case with any runner Douch produces, Spot Fox isn't there to make up the numbers.
"He's had a lot of issues, but he's the best I've ever had him," he said.
"He's jumping out of his skin and don't worry, he can run too!
"From where he's drawn he's going to need a lot of luck, but if there's any trouble and he gets around the outside, he can run time. He'll run in the 29.20s.
"I saw he was $151 to win the Cup, so I had something on him!"
Douch and wife Sue bred Here Comes Milli, with her litter also including boom G3 Great Chase winner Explicit, which has won seven from nine for Jason Thompson.
Douch has a huge opinion of another littermate, Here Comes Dezel, which created a massive impression in winning his first two starts at The Meadows in 29.91sec and 30.13sec, before pulling up lame when suffering his first defeat at Sandown on Thursday night.
"He's the fastest dog I've ever had!" Douch said.
"What he's shown me in trials, I've never had one do before."