Trainer Lindsey Smith is optimistic a decision to send Triple Missile to Perth will be richly rewarded in the $1.5 million Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Smith knows what it takes to win the Winterbottom Stakes, Perth’s major and most prestigious sprint, he did it 15 years ago when Glory Hunter won the race under Group 2 status.
If Smith’s plan goes to script, victory will hold a distinctly Western Australian flavour.
Triple Missile commenced his career in Perth for local owner-breeder, Neil Irvine, winning on debut for then trainer, Todd Harvey.
Triple Missile’s Winterbottom partner, premier jockey, Damien Oliver, is Perth-born and bred.
Smith was born in Williamstown, but called the west home for decades before returning to Victoria with family and setting up a successful stable in Warrnambool a couple of years back.
Triple Missile also holds an entry in next month’s Damien Oliver-Gold Rush (1400m), but Smith has not put a ceiling on the bay winning the Winterbottom Stakes, he feels the six-year-old will relish being back on home soil.
A strong track gallop by Triple Missile at Smith’s Karnup base earlier in the week has only added to his confidence.
“He had a pretty rousing gallop yesterday (Tuesday) up the hill and had a good blow,” Smith said on Tabradio.
“His heart rate was a little high and he had a blow, but it’s 1200m and I was quite happy with him, yes.
“I always thought he would be a good horse to bring back because he just feels the hard ground a bit in track work over there.
“He’s on the way up and strong for Saturday and he does like it here in Perth.”
Triple Missile has been lightly raced in 2023, appearing in three group races.
Two runs ago at Flemington he finished runner-up in the Gilgai (1200m).
28 days back at the same course and venue , he finished sixth to Spacewalk in the Rising Fast Stakes (1200m).
Triple Missile has to snap a 540-day hoodoo to win the Winterbottom Stakes, but Smith said his form is better than what it appears.
“He hasn’t won for a while this horse, but some of his runs have been pretty good,” Smith said.
“He gets himself into tricky spots and it’s very hard to pick them up.
“His first run was really good and I thought he had the favourite beat (Star Patrol).
“The other day the race turned all pear shaped.
“He’ll look better in the yard on Saturday.”
In a 16-horse Winterbottom line up, Triple Missile has pole position in barrier one.
With a host of on pace runners, Smith’s hopes of genuine speed in the Winterbottom Stakes is sure to come off.
“I suppose he’ll be three back the fence,” Smith said.
“Damien will just close his eyes and get out.
“He does get back, but it depends what the track is doing on the day.
“Hopefully it’s a fast run race and if they’re running on I’m a chance.
“The favourite (Overpass) should lead and Oscar’s Fortune will be up there putting a bit of pressure on.”
Oliver is desperate to another Group 1 to his illustrious racing cv before he bows out of racing after the Gold Rush, named in his honour on December 16.
He’s won the Winterbottom twice, the Group 2 on Marasco (2007) and the Group 1 aboard Voodoo Lad 12 years after.
Triple Missile is on the third line of Tabtouch betting at $7, sitting behind Overpass ($3.20) and Ripcord $6.50.
Triple Missile won five of seven races in Perth, three for Harvey before another two under Smith.
For Smith in Melbourne Triple Missile claimed successive Flemington and Swan Hill wins.