THE PICKET FENCE looks pretty in the form guide for any horse and being unbeaten is the new black in racing.
Black Caviar has taken perfect to another stratosphere in recent years but, be it the program or other reasons, trainers seem to be able to keep runs of wins going at the beginning of a career.
There are seven runners at Rosehill putting unblemished records on the line on Saturday, and most connections would admit they face their biggest test.
Four of the unbeaten brigade are two-year-olds with limited experience, but three-year-olds Rebel Dane and Golden Sunshine will shoot for fifth straight wins, while the Paul Messara-trained Vadashan takes on the older horses in attempting to chalk up win No.3.
"It is very hard to win a race anywhere but when they start stringing them together you know you have a good one," Messara said. "There are not many horses that win three in a row that fluke it.
"The handicapping makes it very hard for them to do it these days because they quickly find their mark."
Vadashan has had a rapid rise through the grades to an open handicap after winning a Kembla maiden and benchmark 71 against the three-year-olds to illustrate Messara's point.
He was also nominated for the Hobartville Stakes but the extra 100 metres fitted better for the Derby-bound colt. "He is already looking for further and this was a better option for him considering where we are going with him," Messara said. "It is a good test for him against the older horses."
Trainers don't see an unbeaten record as adding that much pressure to their job. It means they are doing the right thing and most are realists that eventually they come to a stage where they reach their mark.
Gary Portelli said Rebel Dane, which came from last against the bias of the day to win the Royal Sovereign, is up where he should be, taking on Pierro and company in the Hobartville.
"There might have been pressure if Pierro wasn't there [for Rebel Dane] being four from four," Portelli said. "But he is not expected to win. At the start of his career he was group 2 horse running in restricted company and did what you would have hoped.
"However, he has stepped up every time and won. Being a winner is something you can't train into them and he has shown himself to [be] one of those."
A quick look at the form in the Hobartville reveals just what sort of jump Rebel Dane is being asked to take. A raft of feature wins from the Melbourne spring appear alongside his rivals, while his modest wins were at Canterbury and Rosehill before his Royal Sovereign success.
"He is going from park footy to the grand final," Portelli said. "He has been going pretty good in the park but it will be how he handles the pressure of the grand final, which will tell the story."
Rick Worthington has been able to get four wins from Golden Sunshine without stepping above a benchmark 75 and has won $184,000.
It is a skill to find the right race to give this three-year-old her best chance of winning, which she has done each time in a campaign that started in October. The Fireball Quality (race four) will be a measuring stick to where she might be able to go.
"There is no pressure on her," Worthington said. "She is a nice filly, who is stepping up to see how good she could be. The easy thing would have been to wait for the right race to come for her but we need to know where she stands against the better ones and she meets them on Saturday.
"We think she is up to a spring campaign and it is better to know before we send her for break."
It is the easiest label to lose - being unbeaten - and the juvenile races always have a couple that have yet to meet with defeat. Silver Slipper fancy Charlie Boy and Romantic Dream won their only starts, while Queenslander Whiskey Allround put three wins together up north before a spell.
Anthony Cummings will put the perfect record of Never Can Tell, the Canonbury winner, on the line in the group 2. "Like with anything, winning is a habit and it gives them confidence," Cummings said.
The story Unbeaten brigade to face their biggest tests in a cracking carnival card first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.