Premier Victorian trainer Peter Moody is more tempted than ever to treat the Perth racing fans to a glimpse of his wonder mare Black Caviar after the Winterbottom Stakes received an upgrade in status, the feature to run as a Group 1 from 2011.
Worth $500,000 in prize money, the Winterbottom Stakes is a weight-for-age feature run over 1200 metres but until this year was only a Group 2 graded race.
The Australian Pattern Committee, however, has made the decision to elevate the Winterbottom Stakes to elite level status starting this year when the sprint showdown takes place at Ascot on November 19, Railway Stakes Day.
There is also the possibility that the Winterbottom Stakes prize money will be raised to $750,000 in the coming weeks.
With Moody naming the Winterbottom as a possible summer aim for his superstar sprinter Black Caviar following her assault on the Melbourne Spring Carnival, the race is sure to attract more interest than ever before.
“Black Caviar would most likely have been here for last year’s Winterbottom if the race had been a Group 1,” Perth Racing media manager Marty Young said.
“The fact that it’s now a Group 1 is pretty much the last hurdle out of the way.
“She’s just got to get through a couple of starts in Melbourne first and then, all things being well, she’ll be on the plane over here.”
The Winterbottom upgrade did come at a cost, however, with the downgrade from a Group 1 to Group 2 event of the Western Australian Derby for three-year-olds in April.
“It’s disappointing to lose the Group One status of a historical race like the WATC Derby but at the same time it had not been performing to the appropriate standard in recent years”, David Hunter, WA’s rep on the Pattern Committee, said.
“This way we don’t lose a Group One, we still have three Group One races in Western Australia.”
One runner that could take on the queen Black Caviar in this year’s Winterbottom Stakes vying for a Group 1 win is the Stan Bates-trained All Friared Up.
Last Saturday the talented Blackfriars filly secured her seventh career win from 10 starts with a strong performance in the $80,000 Listed Beaufine Stakes (1000m).
All Friared Up, ridden by Jason Whiting, was able to overcome her awkward barrier draw to defeat race favourite Kid Choisir by three quarters of a length while the Jim Taylor-trained Shock Value was a devastatingly close third.
Further staking her claims as a sprinter to watch this season, All Friared Up ran a blistering 32.86 over the final 600 metres of Saturday’s Beaufine Stakes, which officials said was the quickest last 600m run in Perth this season.
Bates plan now is to give All Friared Up as many chances to further add to her impressive record before her Perth Summer Racing Carnival campaign at Ascot, which could include the Winterbottom Stakes.
“I’d like her tackle the Belmont Newmarket on August 6 and the Goodwood Sprint two weeks later, Bates said.
“Then we’ll look at the Ascot carnival options.
“All Friared up could contest the Colonel Reeves Stakes a fortnight before the Winterbottom.
“We’ll be trying to win as much as possible before Black Caviar gets here for the Winterbottom.
“Black Caviar would be a formidable rival for All Friared Up.”
There is also a chance that All Friared Up will be stepped up in distance and given the chance in the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m), which runs on the same day as the Winterbottom.
“But she is racing very well in shorter events,” Bates said.
“The 1100 metres Colonel Reeves Stakes and 1200 metres Winterbottom probably look her best options.”
Bates enjoyed great success at Belmont on Saturday, the Ascot-based trainer also taking out the meeting’s other black-type feature thanks to Miss Tipsy Topsy saluting in the $80,000 Belmont Classic (2200m).
Also ridden by Whiting, Miss Tipsy Topsy defeated Fred Kersley’s Svara by nearly half a length while the Kellie Grantham-trained favourite Black Moment was a well beaten third finishing three and three quarter lengths away from the winner.