Lloyd Williams cast-off Upon might still be a work in progress but Joe Pride is optimistic about his future.
Upon will be one of two Pride-trained runners in the Echo Entertainment Group Hcp (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday, along with handy gelding Tom’s Rocket.
A five-time winner in Melbourne and runner-up in the Werribee Cup (2630m) in March, the lightly-raced Upon has started just once for Pride.
“I like him a lot, he’s a nice horse,” Pride said.
“He’s quite clearly a 2000 metre-plus horse and these races are serving as a stepping stone but his last 200 metres the other day was excellent in a very unsuitable 1200.
“As I get him up in trip we’ll really see him improve.”
Pride says he is still learning about Upon but hasn’t ruled out a belated trip to Melbourne for a race at the back-end of the carnival, or a tilt at the summer Cups in Sydney.
“I don’t have specific plans but they might be suitable and maybe even something late in the carnival in Melbourne,” Pride said.
“I haven’t really specified the goals yet because I’m still getting to know the horse.”
Pride opted to change his goal for Tom’s Rocket, declining to press on to the Epsom Handicap after the five-year-old disappointed when fifth in the Bill Ritchie Handicap at his first test in stakes grade.
Prior to that he had scored impressively at Warwick Farm and Pride believes Saturday’s race is ideal for Tom’s Rocket.
“Second-up was always going to be a bit hard and he missed the start or got chopped out of the start and it put him out of play,” Pride said of the Bill Ritchie run.
“We’ve come back a cog and placed him in a race he can win.
“It’s a suitable race, he’s got a good jockey on board and the horse is going well.”
Christian Reith will partner Tom’s Rocket with Jim Cassidy aboard Upon.