Great Southern trainer Paul Hunter may not have gone home with the winner’s purse at Belmont on Saturday but the trip from Albany was certainly not a wasted exercise.

Hunter breathed easier following the outstanding return of Dream Lifter and is tackling the talented four-year-olds future with renewed confidence.

Dream Lifter, resuming from a 12-month injury layoff, was a gallant runner-up to Pininci in the Tabtouch Supporting The Industry Handicap (1000m).

The son of Danehill Express, ridden by Pateman’s nephew Mitchell Pateman, overcame a check at the 400m before recovering to pierce his way between runners.

He appeared to have the race within his grasp but he couldn’t repel the David Harrison-trained Pininci who grabbed him on the line to score by a half-head.

“He didn’t have a lot of luck but there were a few others in the same boat,” said Hunter.

“I think he just may have peaked on his run but it was a good effort first-up after so much time off.

“Importantly the run wasn’t a gut-buster and it hasn’t taken too much out of him.

“He has pulled up a treat and worked briskly this morning (Monday).

“He will come on in fitness and it’s upwards and onwards from here.”

Dream Lifter has raced on seven occasions for three wins and two placings with last year’s Belmont Guineas (1600m) his sole failure.

Hunter said despite Dream Lifter’s promising return he was not looking ahead to feature Ascot races in the summer.

“His ratings are too low and he has to earn his spot in the bigger races,” said Hunter.

“He will have three or four races this campaign including another on in three weeks.”