The lightly raced True Courage is progressing with racing and will be a major threat when he next steps out following another game performance in the Class Four Cleveland Handicap (1,000m) at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The Tony Millard-trained gelding was a non-starter in the 2011-12 season, before getting his career under way on September 26 over the course and distance. He was in need of that outing and came out of the race with mucous in his trachea after a torrid run.
After a dirt trial in October, he returned on November 28 with a creditable 2¾-length eighth behind Vintage Hussler over the same Valley trip. On New Year's Day at Sha Tin's 1,200m journey, jockey Umberto Rispoli had him travelling nicely along the fence in second from a good gate, before his condition gave way when a pleasing fourth behind Divine Diya. Drawing gate 10 this time back to the city course, True Courage was a 13-1 chance for Rispoli. He rolled forward after jumping smoothly, got into a one-out position in third passing the 800m, moved to second approaching the 400m and kept on nicely to only find Nobody But You too smart in the final 60m.
True Courage will be better with a combination of experience and maturity and should prove to be a bread-and-butter performer for the yard.
The New Zealand-bred four-year-old is a son of proven O'Reilly and Haayil mare Storm Jewel. O'Reilly needs no introduction to local racing - having dished out 57 winners from 92 starters, with his progeny most explosive over sprint-to-mile at Happy Valley.
From the lower half of his pedigree, Storm Jewel was unplaced in two sprints in New Zealand, but is a half-sister to the talented mare Cinder Bella - a winner of 12 races in New Zealand from 1,200m to 2,050m including six Group races. Storm Jewel has produced two winners from three other foals, including the locally-performed Winning Speed and Proclaimer.