Group 1 winner Bon Aurum is set to return to the races at The Valley this Saturday, ending a period of almost 20 months between runs.
The Bon Hoffa entire enjoyed a high-flying spring in 2016 that included a Stakes win at Flemington, followed by winning the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes a fortnight later. Incidentally, he also won Stakes races on each of the corresponding race days 12 months earlier, including the Caulfield Guineas Prelude.
However, since his Rupert Clarke-winning campaign, in which he also ran in the Toorak Handicap and Cantala Stakes, Bon Aurum has been sidelined with troublesome knees - being forced to undergo three operations to remove bone chips.
It will be 596 days between runs for Bon Aurum, who is down to run in Saturday's All Victorian Sprint Series Heat 7 (1200m) at The Valley.
Maher said the first-up run will be the test to see if he has the same spark that saw him conquer the likes of Voodoo Lad and Fast 'N' Rocking at G1 level.
"He's been improving, he's been in work for a little while now," the Caulfield trainer said, noting Bon Aurum's three official trials this prep.
"He's obviously been off for a while. He's had a good few trials, we've taken him away from home just to try and bring him on.
"He trialled at Werribee the other day, it was a fairly rain-affected track and he doesn't really handle that, so it was good to bring him to The Valley today.
"He worked with Pemberley, and I thought it was the best he'd let down for a while.
"I think he's improved looks-wise, so he'll line up here Saturday in a 1200m, handicap conditions, we'll probably have to claim with Liam Riordan.
"We'll kick him off, and see if he's still got the spark he used to have."
WATCH: Bon Aurum's most recent trial
So Saturday will be a bit of a guide as to the level Maher will be aiming at in the coming months with Bon Aurum, a rising six-year-old.
"Getting him back into form is the main thing before the spring," Maher added.
"There's plenty of early races that would suit him - he's won a Rupert Clarke, so he could head that way.
"We'll see how he is, he's an older horse, I think he'll appreciate just the cut out of the track which The Valley usually throws up."
Bon Aurum is one notable runner of what could be a strong hand for Maher this Saturday.
Winning machine Lite'n In My Veins has won four of his past five starts, and is the 62kg topweight in the Banjo Paterson Series Heat 5 (2040m).
Maher said the five-year-old gelding was fairly straightforward to train, and a tightening of his schedule has not hindered his talent.
"We were spacing his runs quite a bit," Maher said. "But as he's got deeper into his prep, he looks particularly well.
"We've shortened up his race turnaround to fortnightly, and he seems to be thriving.
"So with the shorter turnaround, we don't do much with him at all, just keep him happy, we get him down the beach a few times for a wade, and he had an easy gallop within himself this morning and he seems in great order."
Maher took his two-year-old fillies Sunrise Dancer and Blonde Choice for a Valley gallop on Tuesday, and said one or both could head to Saturday's Super VOBIS Handicap over 1200m after respective minor placings on debut at Werribee on May 25.
Maher also provided his thoughts on:
"Pemberley's come up well - last preparation he was off a winter campaign," he said.
"He hit the board first-up, he won the Bairnsdale Cup over a mile.
"He's come together pretty well, obviously he'll improve out the back of it.
"I'm pretty happy with him, probably going to claim with him but he can run a cheeky race.
"I think he's probably not quite as forward as he was when he was going to Bairnsdale.
"He's had a bit of a lay-off, so you'd think he'd take a bit of improvement out of the run also."
"He's an old stable favourite, I love the horse," Maher said.
"Just this time of year suits him, he's getting his toe in the track, he's off a really long break, it'll be his fourth run in, he's a big burly fella.
"Liam Riordan knows him well.
"In his races, it looks like he waits for them a little bit, then toughs it out right to the line.
"With that in mind, we might try the visors on him this week so he can see them coming.
"He's got a few tricks up his sleeve, that might be the little niche he needs.
"He's not far off them, he's been rolling forward and making his own luck, and I'd say Saturday will be no different."