Reliable Team has a perfect record to protect when he takes his place in section two of the Class 3 Wah Fu Handicap (1200m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night, and Zac Purton hopes the emerging talent has enough class to overcome a number of looming obstacles, not least immaturity.
“His class has got him through before and hopefully it can again,” the champion jockey said, “but last season he was in Class 4 and these Class 3 horses know what they’re doing, they’re a lot sharper, so he needs to be on his game first-up.”
Two eye-catching wins last term marked the Frankie Lor-trained gelding as a bright prospect, but his career tally of two from two has been achieved despite obvious greenness. Not much has changed on that front, according Purton.
“He’s the same horse as he was last season,” the Australian said. “He didn’t travel in his barrier trial at all, he wanted to hang out around the corner and run away from the other horse. He doesn’t feel any
stronger: he feels the same at the moment.
“I don’t know that he’s going to strengthen up a lot though because I think he’s going to be a miler. When he gets up over more distance he’s going to be comfortable in the run.”
Reliable Team has done all of his racing at Wednesday’s course and distance and his natural ability has carried him through so far. Breaking from gate eight over 1200m could well put the exciting prospect under pressure from the off though.
“These 1200-metre races, they have him under the pump all the way,” Purton continued. “He’s never drawn a gate, he’s always had to work to get a spot and it’s going to be the same on Wednesday night.
“He’s never been able to relax and find a rhythm. It’ll be harder this time with a big weight in this grade.”
Lor bagged his first win of the campaign at Sha Tin on Sunday while Purton pocketed a four-timer to lead the premiership at this early juncture.
“Hopefully it’s the start of a nice roll,” the latter said, “I’d rather get on one early in the season than late in the season. It’s nice to get a couple of wins on the board.”
Reliable Team, a son of Westbury Stud stallion Reliable Man, faces 11 mostly exposed but competitive rivals in the night’s penultimate contest.
Reliable Team was purchased by Upper Bloodstock out of the 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale when consigned by Phoenix Park.