King Kool in the Face of The Underworld

Ian Glading isn’t scared of facing off against boom three-year-old The Underworld in Saturday’s Strickland Stakes, confident his last-start winning veteran King Kool Kat can continue their recent run of good form.

King Cugat seven-year-old King Kool Kat is the early $2.70 favourite to take out the $125,000 Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m) at Belmont on Saturday and secure back-to-back black types following their tidy win over fellow Strickland-bound Impressive Jeuney in the Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) at the track on June 25.

Facing off against a quality field of seven rivals, Ascot-based Glading knows the biggest threat to King Kool Kat ending his winter campaign with a win on Saturday is likely to come from Chris Gangemi’s The Underworld.

King Kool Kat is enjoying a purple patch in their career, the old hand on the track with 63 starts having run three stakes placings prior to their Hyperion win including a devastating close third beaten a nose by Grand Nirvana in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) on June 11.

Due to be ridden by apprentice hoop Duncan Miller, King Kool Kat has drawn just worse than mid-field in barrier five for the Strickland Stakes which will be their first run over a distance greater than 1800m since 2007.

“We’ve upped his work with the extra distance and he’s jumping out of his skin,” Glading said.

Rated a $9 chance of Strickland Stakes success, The Underworld may not be getting the attention in the markets but they have come up on Glading’s danger radar after the emerging galloper was accepted for Listed feature over the Dayana Plate.

“I’m glad he’s there,” Glading said.

“It makes the race all the more interesting.”

Jumping from barrier seven with ace WA hoop William Pike in the mount, well-bred High Chaparral gelding from Star Way mare Rune The Underworld is looking for their third win on the trot after successive wins at Belmont.

Last start on June 25 The Underworld stepped up to stakes company for the first time in their five-start career and was the eye-catching winner of the Listed Belmont Guineas (1600m).

Glading knows The Underworld’s potential, but he is also well aware of the things working in his stable star’s favour.

Firstly are the weight-for-age conditions of the Strickland Stakes, King Kool Kat carrying 59kg which is just 1.5kg more than The Underworld.

“Despite not being well in at the weights, he’s a horse on the way up with a lot of potential,” Glading conceded of The Underworld.

Race tactics are also set to come into play on Saturday, and with King Kool Kat boasting a wealth of experience and plenty of track adaptability Glading believes this will see him through on the day.

“I think tactics will come into it and Duncan Miller rides King Kool Kat so well and he can sit just about anywhere,” Glading said.

“He’s a horse that runs on confidence and that sort of riding suited him.”

The Underworld’s trainer Gangemi said his decision to go for the Guineas over the Dayana Plate was based on a want to boost the horse’s rating in preparation for a stint at the features of the Ascot Summer Racing Carnival at the end of the year.

“We want to run him in the big races over the carnival so it might be better to qualify him now,” Gangemi said.

“He pulled up well (from the Guineas) and isn’t showing any signs of training off.

“The weights make it hard.

“He only gets 1.5kg off King Kool Kat but if he’s right he’ll put in a big run.”

2011 Strickland Stakes Final Field & Barriers

# Form (Last 10) Horse Trainer Jockey Barrier Weight (kg)
1 11326X3321 KING KOOL KAT Ian Glading Duncan Miller (a) 5 59kg
2 218800X009 GOD HAS SPOKEN Neville Parnham Steven Parnham 2 59kg
3 651X441X35 BATTLE EMBLEM Grant Williams Ms Kyra Yuill (a) 6 59kg
4 0745425415 SARATIME Neville Parnham Jason Brown 1 59kg
5 36800X0562 KAWATIRI Daniel Morton Danny Miller 8 59kg
6 54611 THE UNDERWORLD (NZ) Chris Gangemi William Pike 7 57.5kg
7 7X23526X02 IMPRESSIVE JEUNEY Darren Mcauliffe Shaun O’Donnell 4 57kg
8 4731312112 SENSE OF PURPOSE Adam Durrant Peter Knuckey 3 57kg