“Don’t overlook the chances of Essential Spice,”
That’s the warning from Ben Pearce before the Group 3 Tabtouch Prince Of Wales Stakes (1000m) at Ascot on Saturday, which has attracted a top field of sprinters.
Stageman is the TAB Fixed Odds favourite at $3.30, leading the market ahead of Rock Magic ($6), Valour Road ($6), Malibu Style ($7) and Mervyn ($9).
Essential Spice, a winner of the Listed Beaufine Stakes (1000m) in July, is at $10.
Pearce concedes Stageman will be the testing material in the Prince Of Wales Stakes and the horse to beat, but he’s not prepared to overlook his mare.
He says the five-year-old wasn’t entirely suited at her previous start in the Listed Crawford Stakes (1000m) when she ran fifth to Indian Pacific.
Only Stageman finished quicker than her over the last 600m, but on a day that aided on pace runners she had too much ground to pick up from near last.
Pearce, who shares training duties with his brother Dan, says with an improved run Essential Spice can bounce back in the Prince Of Wales Stakes.
“She couldn’t get a cart into the race and had to take off too far from home,” Pearce told the Races WA.
“If she can get someone to take her into the race, she can then be saved for that one final sprint that she has.
“I thought it was a good first-up effort and I’m happy where she is at.
“She has a great record at the 1000m and second-up.
“Stageman will be hard to beat, but if Essential Spice gets the right run, she will be in it.”
Lucy Warwick retains the ride on Essential Spice.
Meanwhile in the second Group 3 feature event on the weekend, the Hosemasters Asian Beau Stakes (1400m), Money Maher makes his return to racing for the Pearces’
Leg injuries have kept the Al Maher gelding out of competitive action since last May (2019). A multiple Listed winner as a three-year-old, Money Maher has been given two trials as a warm up.
“I was going to run him in something easier, but he came up with a good barrier.” Pearce said.
“If he can get a cushy run, he has an electrifying turn of foot and can burst through.
“It’s great to have him back on his legs again.”
Lucy Warwick teams up with Money Maher from barrier three. He carries 54kg.
Earlier in the Quayclean Handicap (1200m), Peace is somewhat mystified that Dig Deep is at double figure odds ($12).
Dig Deep underlined his class as a juvenile by winning the Group 2 Karrakatta Plate (1200m). As a three-year-old he ran third in the Belgravia Stakes (1200m) and Fairetha Stakes (1400m) respectively.
A fractured cannon bone has kept Dig Deep out of racing since finishing last to Laverrod at Ascot in April.
After a sound trial when he wasn’t knocked about behind River Beau, Pearce says Dig Deep is on track to resume.
“Is he the forgotten horse? Pearce said.”
“His trial was super and I think he is over the odds.
“He has ability and it’s a drop in grade.
“I think he is a big chance.”
With the claim of apprentice, Chris Graham, Dig Deep carries 60kg. He starts from gate 11.