A positive endorsement from trainer Darren McAuliffe has boosted the confidence of Mitchell Pateman ahead of his ride on The Velvet King at Belmont on Saturday.
Pateman reunites with The Velvet King in the Iron Jack Belmont Sprint (1400m) and the top jockey is sure the five-year-old can make a successful return to Perth racing.
The son of Universal Ruler campaigned in Melbourne last spring under the care of Peter Moody but was limited to just two starts after being hampered with feet problems.
He ran seventh in the Village Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield and last at his previous start in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in October.
“He’s a high-quality horse on his day,” Pateman told Tabradio.
“Darren (McAuliffe) messaged me the other day and said he flew.
“That was Tuesday morning and that’s as good a lead as any.
“He’s been at the top level for a good two or three years and it’s hard to keep coming back and competing at that level.
“But Darren instils me with a lot of confidence. He knows the horse better than anyone.
“He thinks he has him where he needs to be.
“That gives me as much confidence as anything.”
A narrow second to Perfect Jewel in last year’s Belmont Sprint, The Velvet King has trialed three times in readiness for his Belmont Sprint assault.
After a fair first trial, Pateman said The Velvet King had improved considerably when second to Battle Storm and We’ve Got Dreams in following hit outs.
“His second trial was much better than his first, he improved greatly,” Pateman said.
“He needed to as I wasn’t totally rapt in his first one.
“His third one was really good, and we were out to do a bit because he missed a run in the Roma Cup (1200m).
“He was there to do a bit and he did.
“I think he will go well.”
The Velvet King, a Group 3 winner of the Northerly Stakes (1400m) in 2019, has three wins and two seconds from six first-up attempts.
In a field of 15 starters in the Belmont Sprint, The Velvet King has drawn barrier seven.
Pateman said he would be endeavoring to land in a positive position.
“I’ll be trying to, but he’s become a tricky horse,” Pateman said.
“He used to always jump and run and there was no issue.
“He doesn’t get out clean anymore and it makes it awfully difficult.”
The Velvet King will wear blinkers in the Belmont Sprint.
He is rated a $10 hope with Tabtouch.