IT was a moment that Bernie Hewitt will never forget - raising the Gold Crown trophy in triumph while the huge crowd at the Bathurst Paceway cheered and applauded.
After more than two decades of trying, the Georges Plains trainer-driver finally claimed the prestigious Group 1 prize with a talented colt called College Chapel.
College Chapel was the $1.90 favourite for the Group 1 decider, but even before he lined up for his heat at the annual Bathurst Gold Crown Carnival, there was plenty of buzz about Hewitt's chance.
"Straight away he was doing things right. He showed that he's got that x-factor," Hewitt said at the time.
This year Hewitt will again seek success in the Gold Crown Carnival's two-year-old classics with six fillies nominated for Friday's Gold Tiara heats and another six runners to contest Gold Crown heats on Saturday.
That is two more chances than he held last year and while none of them have excited Hewitt as much as College Chapel did 12 months ago, he feels the fields for the two features are relatively open.
That gives him hope he can again qualify for a final.
"I don't think we have a College Chapel who is sticking out and saying 'I'm going to win the Gold Crown', but history shows you don't have to have one like that. If you can just get into the final then you're going to have some hope," Hewitt said.
"While we don't have any real star fillies or colts at the moment, there's not too many in the state that I've seen that have really stuck their hands up and said that they're going to win these big races.
"So hopefully we can do well not only in the two-year-old legs, but the three-year-old legs, they are $100,000 Group 1 races this year ... there's a lot of money in the carnival, we are really looking forward to it and hopefully we can be up there amongst the top money earners at the end of the carnival."
Even with open fields and no real stand-out favourites, Hewitt knows that winning races at the Gold Crown Carnival is no easy task.
But in any case, he will no doubt enjoy the week-long event and keep working towards success with his team.
"It's good we have all the family involved, we've got friends each year that come and stay at Gold Crown time. Even though it's really busy, it's good to have friends around and there is a bit of a buzz about the place," he said.
"Even if we are not successful this year, we are hoping that some of these two-year-olds can go on and win some nice races over the next six months.
"Meanwhile we are starting to break in yearlings as well that we've purchased out of Sydney for next year's carnival. It just keeps rolling on."