Courtesy of iSyndicate.com.au - Kristen Manning 23/02/15. Whilst cutting a young boy's hair at his Carlton salon a few decades ago Tony Ferraro could never have imagined that he was at the beginning of a friendship that would see him fulfil a lifelong dream of standing in the feature race winner's circle.
In fact he doesn't actually remember that boy and even upon meeting him a few years ago no memories stirred.
Although they did for Peter Gelagotis who from day one was sure he had met Tony somewhere, sometime.
And it was his mother who joined the dots - happening to mention one day that she used to take her sons to "that hairdresser next to the Medallion Cafe in Lonsdale Street."
It was some time later that Tony would introduce himself to Peter, needing a new home for a horse or two with his previous trainer taking time off due to illness.
"I used to always go to the stalls and watch horses get ready for their races," Tony recalled "and I noticed that Peter was very fussy with his horses and that they always looked really well."
Tony's first horse with the Moe trainer didn't excel but it has been all up from there, horses like Crepes, Mr Marciano and Esprit Rossa giving their happy part-owner reason to celebrate.
But none of those have brought a bigger smile to Tony's face than the wonderful galloper Mourinho.
A bargain $36,000 purchase at the 2009 Inglis Classic Yearling Sale in Sydney, the son of Oratorio is not a horse who hit the ground running but at seven he is racing in career best form and it has been worth the wait!
Whilst he did not take long to win, saluting at big odds at only his second start having finished down the track at debut, Mourinho did not inspire confidence in his early work.
"I remember at a dinner one night Peter saying 'well I hope he can stay because he sure can't sprint!'" Tony laughed.
And Tony had not exactly been impressed upon first seeing Mourinho - "he was going through that ugly yearling stage, he was like a scrawny teenager!"
But time and patience can do wonders and Mourinho quickly proved himself a city class galloper, at his fourth start racing away to an easy Moonee Valley victory.
A couple of months later proving too strong for his rivals in the Gr.3 Tasmanian Derby, Mourinho just kept racing well and in the spring of 2013 was able to add another stakes race to his resume, the Gr.3 JRA Cup at Moonee Valley.
He was back in winning form at that, his favourite track, last winter, taking his good form into the spring with a Feehan Stakes second splitting The Cleaner and Foreteller and two starts later winning the Listed Cranbourne Cup.
All big thrills for Tony, as was Mourinho's gutsy first up victory in the Gr.2 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley in late January.
A win so thrilling that it couldn't be topped - or could it?
In the lead-up to Mourinho's next assignment, the Gr.1 C.F Orr Stakes at Caulfield, Tony was happy just to enjoy the prospect of having a runner in such a prestigious race.
"I am more excited than nervous," he said the day before - bound to be proud of Mourinho no matter where he finished - "though if he happened to finish in the placings I would be over the moon."
So imagine his joy when Mourinho did just that, showing just how big hearted he is with his determined third behind Dissident last weekend.
And Tony celebrated as though he'd won - "I am just so proud of him, he tried so hard."
"It was my biggest thrill in racing!"
Enjoying every second of Mourinho's career, Tony looks back on how long it took him to get a winner let alone such a good horse!
"I did my apprenticeship - it took quite a while to get a winner and I spent a lot of time travelling to country meetings."
So inauspicious was Tony's introduction to racing horses that a Warracknabeal third was a real highlight - "I wanted to get the photo!"
Tony is appreciative of those days, noting that he "doesn't take anything Mourinho does for granted."
"I am appreciating every day of his career!"
Inheriting his racing passion from his father who "has always loved a punt," Tony would go to the races to cheer on South Australian jockey Mick Goreham, a friend of his family's neighbours.
"I got the bug," he said - and from thereon it was always an ambition to race horses.
One which he fulfilled in 1985 - the same year he opened his hair-dressing salon.
The horse was Twice A Star and at debut she was third - a distant third, but one that was well and truly celebrated.
"I was doing cartwheels on the lawn!"
So if that is how Tony reacts to a maiden third just imagine how he will be should Mourinho claim the ultimate prize later this year - the W.S Cox Plate.
A dream of course, but Mourinho is a horse who has stepped up to every task handed to him, Tony in awe of the bay who has never let anyone down.
"I just love him, he is a beautiful horse, such a gentleman."
Popular with his customers, Mourinho keeps a constant smile on Tony's face - "and a spring in my step!"