Mitchell Pateman’s belief and admiration for The Velvet King will go under the microscope when the four-year-old makes his return at Ascot on Saturday.
The Velvet King faces a star-studded field in the Group 3 Amelia Park Roma Cup (1200m), headed by Group 1 champions, Vega Magic, Gatting and Black Heart Bart.
For good measure throw in multiple stakes winners Man Booker, Flirtini and Angelic Ruler, it’s being hailed as one of the best ever editions of the Group 3 feature.
Pateman doesn’t lack confidence in The Velvet King, a Listed winner of the Fairetha Stakes (1400m) and Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) as a three-year-old and the Group 3 Northerly Stakes (1400m) last season.
With a 16-start career, The Velvet King gives way race experience to his rivals, but Pateman believes the gelding has already demonstrated big potential. He’s confident youth will beat experience.
“I’m very excited to be back on and obviously he is high class,” Pateman said on Tabradio.
“I think he is the horse in the race with the most x-factor and upside.
“There are a lot of horses in there that have climbed the mountain and probably trying to recapture their best form.
“He (The Velvet King) has yet to climb the mountain, but he is probably on the way up.”
Vega Magic races first up since running last in The Heath (1100m) at Caulfield last August.
The Lope De Vega gelding is back in Perth under original trainer Sean Casey, who now shares responsibilities with his son, Jake.
They seem to have Vega Magic back in a happy mindset after he appeared destined for retirement. He looks on track after winning three trials over December, January and April.
Punters believe he can recapture the form that saw him claim two Group 1 races for the Hayes-Hayes-Dabernig set-up in Melbourne three years ago.
The seven-year-old is the $3 favourite with Tabtouch. Angelic Ruler ($4.20), Flirtini ($4.60) and Man Booker ($7) are his closest market challengers.
The Velvet King is $9.50.
Vega Magic has drawn barrier three for Pat Carbery and in similar vein to his trials he’s expected to hit the ground running and lead.
The Velvet King will jump from the extreme outside gate in the field of 12 runners, but Pateman says he will be positive.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I had a look at it and saw that there was little speed,” Pateman said.
“He (The Velvet King) is a jump and run sort of horse.
“Towards the end of his last prep he was missing the kick a little bit, but fresh he should run.
“I would say he ends up outside of Vega Magic if they want to roll with him.
“I think he will be on speed and will be a good chance.”