Cameron Crockett has ridden a countless number of horses in his life but none quite compare to his stable star Barbass.
But the young trainer wants Barbass to make the transition from talented two-year-old to proven three-year-old in his first-up run against his own age group in a benchmark handicap over 1400m at Rosehill on Saturday.
Crockett is the son of famed horse trainer Max and has ridden many of his better horses over the years.
“At his best he’s probably the best horse I’ve ever ridden,” Crockett told AAP.
“I’ve never ridden any champions but I’ve ridden plenty of good horses for Dad.
“He just gives you a feel that’s different to any other horse.”
While he doesn’t doubt Barbass’s ability, Crockett is wary of horses which performed well in their juvenile season holding their form as three-year-olds.
“He’s still a horse that’s got to prove that what he did the first time wasn’t a fluke,” Crockett said.
The horse was the Mudgee trainer’s first Group One runner when he finished near the tail of the field in the J J Atkins at Doomben on June 11.
While the elite level might have come too soon, the most compelling form reference from Barbass’s two-year-old preparation was a runner-up finish behind Skylight Glow in a race where Acatour was third.
Both of those horses acquitted themselves well in Group company during the spring carnival.
Two barrier trials over 1000m on November 6 and 18 showed Crockett that the sharpness which helped Barbass to win the $100,000 Inglis 2YO Classic (1100m) at Scone in May was no longer there.
“He’s given me every indication he’s starting to need further now,” Crockett said.
After returning to the stable in August, bad weather in NSW’s central west held up the horse’s preparation.
“He hasn’t had an ideal prep but we’re getting back on top of things now he’s had the couple of trials,” Crockett said.
“He’s pretty fit. I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t running a good race on the weekend.”
Crockett said veteran trainer Les Bridge told him the difference between a good horse and a great horse was in improvement shown after a spell.
“Winx takes it to the next level every time she comes back in. That’s what separates her,” Crockett said.
With that in mind Crockett is hoping the best horse he has ever ridden will not fall the way of two-year-olds who fail to step up at three.