Mason Keast competed on the big stage of professional athletics by reaching the Stawell Gift final last year.
He finished fifth behind winner Jacob Despard in that race 12 months ago and is back ready for another crack at the title this Easter.
"I suppose after that experience and everything - I've ran a lot this season as well - I sort of know what to expect and I've done it before," Keast, who lives in Delacombe, said.
"It sort of calms you down a bit and you go into the race just knowing what you have to do."
Keast ran off 9.75m in last year's carnival, but has been pulled back a metre for the 2019 event.
"It's not too bad. It's pretty decent and I hope I'm a metre quicker," the 19-year-old said.
"It's the big one that everyone wants to win. Just the atmosphere, especially on the Monday, is huge."
Keast, who is coached by veteran athlete Rob Lehmann, has made a string of Gift finals this season without tasting success.
Plenty of eyes will be on 2003 and 2005 Stawell Gift champion Josh Ross, who is aiming to become the first man to win the fabled 120m handicap three times.
And were the 38-year-old to salute on Easter Monday and pocket the $40,000 first prize, he would become the oldest winner of an event first contested way back in 1878.
"I know a lot of people think that it's important that I'm 38 now; I get it all the time and it does frustrate me," Ross said.
"That really has nothing to do with me; it's just their own limited thinking, small-minded thinking.
"They think you get to a certain level or a certain age in sport and you have to decline or move on to something else in in your life.
"But I've got unfinished business.
"I've got big goals to achieve and I'm still flying on the track and recovering faster than I did when I was 25."
After being run out in the heats in 2018, Ross was handed a 2m mark this year by the handicappers, with defending champ Despard the backmarker at 0.75m.
The early favourite with the bookies is Melbourne's Jason Bailey, who will start off 10m.
Bailey is at $2.75 ahead of Dhruv Rodrigues-Chico ($4.50) and Ross ($8).
Heats of the Stawell Women's Gift begin at 12.25pm today before the heats of the Stawell Gift kick off from 1.22pm.
Semi-finals and finals will be on Monday.
- See the full Stawell Gift and Women's Gift heat fields on page 54.