Perth Preview – 14 October 2023
Can you feel it?
There is a distinct buzz around the Western Australian racing community this week, with the eagerly anticipated return to Ascot now on our doorstep.
The first look at the local two-year-olds, as well as the rebranded Max Simmonds Stakes for the three-year-olds dominate the interest, but across the nine races we are set for a fantastic meeting.
State of The Track
Opening the season with the rail in the true position, there should be opportunities aplenty for fast horses who can find the front, particularly early in the day. With extensive renovations being completed on the track, it will be interesting to see if any patterns emerge.
Surface wise, at the time of writing we are to be running on a soft 5, although with warm weather forecasted, I’d be surprised if we aren’t lining up on a good 4 by race morning.
Race 1: 2YO Plate. 1000m.
While the Karrakatta is six months away, it’s always a bit of fun to sift through these early season races, and try to identify the horses that could make the grade. Two horses stuck out for me in this field, one for professionalism, the other for speed. Show The Way probably trialled as the most ready to race of this group, progressing well into his second heat to get to the line well. Laqdar Ramoly piloted him there, and having him on again is a positive sign. From a low draw, the pair can find a prominent spot, and if he’s able to handle the race day occasion, I think he can run a nice little race. It’s been pretty hard to ignore the sheer speed of Live Lucky, firing down the Lark Hill straight in two speedy trials. Her biggest problem is a wide draw and a really odd jumping action. If she does veer right from the gates, William Pike will earn his riding fee to get her to the front. Would be no surprise if she’s just too good, but I just wonder if she is ready. The Casey operation know how to get a juvenile up and running, with Jackpot Bingo being their chief representative this year. There was nice improvement from trial one to trial two, and with the speed in the race he can find a back to follow and be closing off well late. If I’m making the case for Show The Way, I have to afford plenty of respect to This’ll Show Ya, who crossed the line with him at their most recent outing, and looks to be a fast filly in the making.
Selection: Show The Way
Race 2: 0 Metro Win Handicap. 1100m.
Some progressive sprinters line up here, with a few progression on from the final breaths of the Belmont season. At the price, Stevie’s May represents some value here, having put in a solid run on resumption at the end of September. She started single figures, and was beaten by Ruler Rocket (more on him later) and Ain’t No Other Man (dominant winner at Kalgoorlie last Saturday). Barrier does raise the bar of difficultly slightly, but with an in form senior going on that can be negated with a shrewd ride. Capricorn Man is a quintessential Ascot horse, able to fire along at good sectionals and force his rivals to absorb a hot tempo. The trials in the lead up have been a shade mixed, but I’m not discounting him given the form around My Bella Mae and Bustler from last Spring. On The Full has been ticking along well without winning, and comes out of the same form reference as Stevie’s May. If you like one, you have to respect the other. Both Fast Flicker and Buster’s Free are attempting to transfer from the class system to Westspeed company, and both look like being beneficiaries of a genuine speed.
Selection: Stevie’s May
Race 3: RTG 66+ Handicap. 2100m.
Only the one staying race on the program, and although there’s not a lot of credentialed performers here, there are a couple of progressive horses that can kick on to further down the line. Chief among those is Toni’s Spirit, who relished a step up in trip to walk in at her first go at getting over more ground. Jordan Rolfe looks to have her up and about at the moment, and although it’s a pretty big step from class 1 to a ratings race, she’s struck one where a lot of her rivals are a bit short of form. She’ll go back from the gate, so a truly run race would be the optimum, and at her quote she looks to be a bit of value. Bad Wolf wound back the clock on closing day at Belmont, with a super ride by Madi Derrick to get him back in the winners stall. Now he remembers what it’s like to win, it would be no surprise to see him run well again. Bandalera Miss was 80/1 when placing in the Bad Wolf race, and you’re now looking at a price that is one tenth of what was on offer there. Pike being on will probably artificially keep the price down, but if she does get out to double figures she may end up being a viable option. Not really sure what to make of Soldanelle, who has been shorter than $6 in all four of her starts in Australia, yet hasn’t managed better than third. From the barrier, Steven Parnham probably has to be positive, and if she can recapture her European form then they may have some real strife holding her out.
Selection: Toni’s Spirit
Race 4: RTG 66+ Handicap. 1400m.
Big field here for the fourth of the day, with a couple of runners that look to have futures beyond this grade. It was the barest of margins for Pleasure Cruise last start, with the Justify gelding finding the line just in time in three-year-old company. Gets in on the minimum weight here, and retains the services of William Pike. He’s pretty good at getting out of the gates, so if Pike can hold a spot with a back to follow and go to work on him around the corner, he can keep his unbeaten record intact. Still think he can measure up in a WA Guineas off what we’ve seen so far. Becalotti gets her opportunity to get to 1400 metres off a couple of very tough runs over sprinting trips. Gets a better draw, has been hitting the line like she wants the extra trip, and it would be no surprise to see her take this out. Amber Glide was a strong run from the back at Belmont, atoning for a fairly plain first up effort. Barrier does make this a bit awkward as she’ll likely be near last on the rail, but she is going well enough to be in the finish in a race like this. Noteworthy was going along beautifully as a late season three-year-old, finishing her campaign beaten less than 2.5 lengths by Ihts Closing Inn. Her trial behind the well regarded Alotofbanter indicates she is forward enough to run well over this trip.
Selection: Pleasure Cruise
Race 5: RTG 78+ Handicap. 1400m.
Oh 78 ratings races, how much I’ve missed you. There’s some very exciting horses kicking off or furthering their campaigns here, with Another Chino and Feels Playful undoubtedly staring down bigger targets. In the here and now though, Pompey is absolutely humming along for the Williams stable, and if he can replicate his recent runs here, this is a perfect race for him to increase his rating and start thinking about bigger targets. All of his form around Aztec Ruler is very solid, and if he was participating in this, I suspect he would be close to red figures. Draws beautifully, retains William Pike, and probably catches the horses that are better than him at the opportune time with a fitness edge. Bruce Almighty comes out of the same race as Pompey, beaten four lengths but sticking to his task well and recording his first fresh placing. That indicates he’s come back really well, and at 20/1 or more is a must include for any quaddies or multiples. Love the re-unification of Chris Parnham as well, just seems to go better with him in the saddle. Let’s Galahvant might be one of the grittiest horses in the State, and a poster child as to why being wide in a run isn’t always the death sentence it’s made out to be. Hasn’t cracked a win this preparation, but close defeats to Magnificent Andy in his last two attempts is more than a good enough form reference for this. Great opportunity for Luke Campbell to remind the forgetful just how good of a rider he is. Sentimental Hero got under the guard of some at Belmont when resuming, narrowly denying Multiverse. The 72+ to 78+ progression is logical, but I have a slight query over the strength of that particular form reference.
Race 6: 1 Metro Win Handicap. 1600m.
Starting off the quaddie legs with a wide open event, with sixteen runners engaged to compete here. I was hoping to be a bit sneaky with the run of Cosmic Crusader at Belmont last time out, when rattling home from an impossible position to finish two lengths off them in sixth. Unfortunately, it’s not just me who formed an opinion of him out of that race, with the son of Maurice going up a clear favourite here. Going straight up to a mile off the way he hit the line looks like good placement, and with some speed promised, he should get his chance to run on. Would have to enter a Guineas conversation with a good run here. Forever Dreaming is going a lot better than her almost 20/1 price tag would lead you to believe, narrowly being defeated by subsequent winner Hoist The Colours in this grade last start. She’s slowly edging down in the handicap, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see her cause a mini upset here. Decoration has to progress from a Northam maiden to a Saturday race, but he’s struck an ideal map for him to do no work and be saved for run one. Another progressive three-year-old going sharply up in trip, this could end up being an upwards spiral type performance if he’s got bigger things in him. Hibiscus Lady was well backed at Northam last star and won in dominant fashion. From the barrier she should be able to hold the rail, and if Ascot is being leader friendly, she would be very hard to run down off her last effort.
Selection: Cosmic Crusader
Race 7: 1 Metro Win Handicap. 1000m.
Plenty of sparks should fly here, with a big field accepting for a five furlong scamper. Hopefully missing the start won’t become a habit for Ruler Rocket, who dusted off a tardy getaway to round up his rivals with a shade of arrogance. It was a great ride by Troy Turner that day to recover, especially given he is usually a key speed influence. Hoping that the missed start was the exception rather than the rule, and from barrier four the pair can be handy and in clear air at the point of the corner. Still lightly raced, he can peak at run number four of the preparation, and this price looks fair enough to extend the trust on to another start. Triple Jay was well backed last start when being narrowly defeated by Playhouse Patron (same race as Cosmic Crusader comes out of), and now drops back in trip. He’s got a future ahead of him, and I could have egg on my face for saying this, but I don’t like the setup, and the wide barrier makes it even harder. Prepared to risk him at the price, but he is probably a legitimate second seed in this race, such is his talent. Alotofbanter gave Ripcord a real race in the Perth Stakes as a two-year-old, before a midfield finish in the Karrakatta. Both trials in the lead up to this race have been very good, and he has the speed to keep the rail from gate one. Pacific Boxer makes his life very hard with how far back he gets in the field, although with the speed on he should get a chance to run on. Gino Poletti has this horse going along really nicely.
Selection: Ruler Rocket
Race 8: Max Simmonds Stakes. 1000m.
Some good money on offer for the three-year-old sprinters, with the newly rebranded Max Simmonds Stakes attracting a fantastic field. Plenty of horses will want the front here, and while it’s probably not the dream barrier for Oscar’s Fortune, he looks to have a big future ahead of him. Both of his wins to date have been dripping in arrogance, and the money around for him on course at start number two was buzz synonymous with a very exciting horse. Has a tricky gate, but also has the services of William Pike to overcome it, and unless he ends up wading through the Swan River, he should be right in the finish. The return of Ripcord was a strong one, just missing out while carrying top weight to the speedy Generosity. More suited by the map on this occasion, he did all but win a fortnight ago, and he’s been offered up at a nice price for a horse with his ability. His stablemate Shaddow Fear took on the best of Victoria for her two-year-old season, and while unable to get the big victory, she was never disgraced. Perfect barrier for her to use her turn of foot, and 1000 metres suits. Almighty Class didn’t fire on a heavy track when debuting, but the latest trial was super and it’s the type of race where a strong jockey like Jarrad Noske is worth his weight in gold. Petula has paddocks of ability, but over 1000 metres I’m keen to see how she’d come back. With a solid run, she is right in the frame for a Placid Ark.
Selection: Oscar’s Fortune
Race 9: RTG 66+ Handicap. 1200m.
Finishing off the meeting with a very competitive ratings race, making life rather difficult if this race becomes the difference between a winning or losing day. Getting out to 1200 metres looks a big positive for Thomas Magnum, who was strong through the line in a 72+ last start. That was the Sentimental Hero race, which is a form reference I questioned earlier in this column, but at this level those concerns don’t hold as much weight. Will be in the three wide line from an outside draw, and if there’s conditions suited to running on, he can produce a big finish. This is a nice race for Colossal to make it two on the bounce, having gotten the job done in a Graduation last start. He has acquitted himself well around this level previously, and the barrier draw affords William Pike a chance to boot up and find a closer spot. May need luck, but is more than good enough to measure up here. Celebrity Prince has been finding some good form as of late, and now gets the opportunity to have a crack at a ratings race. Gets in on the minimum weight which looks a key positive, and with a nice run in transit he can make the grade. Augment was rolled as an odds on hope in three-year-old company last start, and gets her chance at redemption here. Hard to know how that form is going to stack up, given we haven’t seen the winner Lord Lala since. She’s undoubtedly talented, but six weeks between runs and taking on the older horses for the first time probably isn’t the dream scenario for her.
Selection: Thomas Magnum
Best: Cosmic Crusader
by Jesse Dart