Four months after undergoing brain surgery for an aneurysm, popular trainer Robbie Griffiths has made a triumphant return to the racetrack at Flemington and cheered home a winner.
Griffiths was attending his first race meeting since the August operation on Saturday, having been given the all-clear earlier in the week to make a return to the races.
And Halvorsen, a horse Griffiths bred and trains, did his part on Saturday to mark the occasion in style when he raced to victory in the Living Legends Trophy (1100m).
Halvorsen had also won at Flemington during last month’s Melbourne Cup carnival, which had coincided with Griffiths’ first day back attending trackwork.
The trainer said he was humbled by the support he had received and also the amount of people who had taken the time to welcome him back at the track on Saturday.
“I don’t think my feet have touched the ground,” Griffiths said after Halvorsen’s win.
“Just to be here is just unbelievably humbling.
“I’m just so appreciative of all the support. The amount of support we’ve had, not just from our fantastic staff and owners but everyone in racing is so humbling.
“Everyone has been sensational from all the trainers, owners.
“We rival against one another every day in racing to win, but when the chips are down we really rally.
“And I’ve really been appreciative of that support. It’s amazing.
“So to be back here is just a thrill and to top it off with a win is just something else.”
Halvorsen has shown his sprinting talent and registered his sixth career win at his 16th start on Saturday.
The four-year-old was sent out the $2.70 favourite in the field of seven and sprinted to a 1-1/4-length victory over Spirit Of Aquada with Dean Yendall aboard.
Mystyko was another three quarters of a length away third.
Griffiths said the Group Three Standish Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on January 1 was the summer target for Halvorsen.
“He’s got such an explosive turn of speed and there’s very few horses that can keep up with him when he unleashes,” Griffiths said.
“I was worried he might have got to there a bit soon today but he was very strong and he stuck to the task very well.”