The Velvet King looks appears to have next month’s Belmont Guineas (1600m) at his mercy, following his commanding win in the Joan Cole Birthday Handicap (1400m) at Belmont yesterday.
Already a multiple Listed race winner, The Velvet King was heavily supported to beat the older horses and he didn’t let his supporters down with an authoritative front-running display.
Jockey Lee Newman, on a comeback from injury himself, had to work hard to find the front on The Velvet King, as Senorita Bonita took on the three-year-old.
The gelding then came off the rails out towards the middle of the track in the home straight, but it was no concern as he scored a 1 ¼ length win.
Trainer Darren McAuliffe said he was bullish the gelding could take the form on to the Belmont Guineas and Belmont Classic over the next two months.
“His ability to roll at high sectionals, I’ve never had one like it,” he said.
“He’s got a lot of upside.
“The Belmont Guineas is at his mercy, I feel, it always has been.”
Newman said he was thankful McAuliffe had given him the ride and added it was a relief to be back in the saddle after such a long injury layoff.
“Everybody has got around me,” he told The Races WA.
“Even before I put my leg over a horse, everyone was messaging me and asking how I was coming along.
“People wanted to see me get back and it did help me get back.
“I feel fantastic, I don’t think I’ve felt as fit in my life.”