Best Step may have taken the vital next step in his four-year-old season as the sprinter looks to follow up on a solid two-win campaign but a clean getaway is crucial for the sprinter on Wednesday night.
Best Step resumes in the Class Three Wistaria Handicap (1,200m) at Happy Valley off a mark of 68 and has the scope to go higher, but with barrier one and the rail in the C + 3 position, a good start is vital.
Zac Purton has been aboard for four of the gelding’s six starts, including a win, but also a trial at the preseason carnival in which Best Step showed both his best and worst qualities.
Best Step cruised to the line under a hold, but it was the start of that trial that was more concerning for Purton, with the Caspar Fownes-trained prospect getting up to some old tricks.
“He just has to get himself out of the gates, he did get better as the season went on, but he stood there and missed it in the trial,” Purton said.
“He is a very honest horse, and when he jumps with them he can put himself in a spot. I just have to be on guard with him, if he jumps he will run a good race. He has led a lot, if he begins well and he is there I can take it up again.”
Barrier manners aside, Best Step looks to have scope to go higher this term after not being overtaxed by Fownes during his first preparation.
“He should have more points in hand, he definitely looked like he still had a bit of learning and maturing to do last season, so hopefully he has strengthened up. If he has made that natural progression I can see him going higher in the ratings,” Purton said.
Trainer Dennis Yip Chor-hong has called on Purton to ride in-form sprinter Starlight in the Class Three Citi Sprint Challenge Cup (1,200m), with the five-year-old chasing back-to-back wins.
Working against Starlight is the fact he has jumped 24 ratings points since May, a steep rise for a six-year-old who took 10 starts to break his maiden.
Purton is still confident as he reconnects with a horse for the first time since an impressive come-from-behind victory at the final Valley meeting of last season.
The jockey had a good view of Starlight’s last start performance, as he chased the winner home on Smart Boy, a horse that franked the form with a victory of his own last week.
“Starlight has been going very well and he always runs a great race, he gets in with the light weight this time, and I always thought he was showing the type of ability that could see him compete in Class Three. I expect him to come out and run another good race,” Purton said.
The Australian will need to be at his best on Danny Shum Chap-shing’s Victory Follow Me in the Class Five Magnolia Handicap (1,650m) after running on gamely last start for Nash Rawiller.
Purton was aboard the winner Speedy Wally in that race and he has since scored convincingly in Class Four.