Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Ranger has retained their favouritism in the Railway Stakes 2011 odds for this Saturday’s showdown at Ascot, three of their confirmed rivals also at single-figures in the updated post-field markets.
The final field and barrier draw for the $1 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Railway Stakes (1600m) has been confirmed with Grant Williams’ last-start Lee Steere Stakes winner Ranger topping the Luxbet markets at a quote of $3.60.
Ranger has been heavily backed to win their maiden elite level assignment, their price firming further after the Testa Rossa five-year-old drew well in barrier six, into five if the two Railway Stakes emergencies Our Ol’ Fella (barrier seven) and Ringmeister (barrier five) fail to gain a start.
Hot on their heels is former favourite Luckygray who has stayed at a quote of $5.50 through Luxbet despite Gino Poletti’s exciting Bradbury’s Luck grey drawing wide with barrier 14.
The other Railway Stakes hopefuls this year under double figures in the odds are then Neville Parnham’s Group 1 winning Blackfriars four-year-old Playing God ($7.50) and the Roger James-trained New Zealand galloper He’s Remarkable ($7.50).
The next-best fancied runners are then Mark Webb’s Melbourne mare Avienus ($11), in-form Danetime six-year-old Westriver Kevydonn ($12) who won the Group 3 R.J. Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot last Saturday in a thrilling photo finish and Waratah’s Secret ($16).
At $16 to win the Railway Stakes the David Harrison-trained Oratorio five-year-old Waratah’s Secret represents excellent value.
A winner of nine of their 19 career starts to date Waratah’s Secret has only finished out of the money on three occasions.
Two of those have been in the Winterbottom Stakes, the other feature running at Ascot on Saturday.
Sixth in the 2009 Winterbottom Stakes and fourth in the sprint feature last year, Harrison made the decision this Festival of Perth Racing to have a crack at the mile for the first time with Waratah’s Secret skipping the Winterbottom in favour of the Railway Stakes.
Drawn ideally in barrier three, Waratah’s Secret will have blinkers removed from their gear as Williams looks to improve them for their first attempt at 1600 metres.
“I want to settle him to help stretch him to the mile,” Harrison said.
After two close seconds this season in Listed features, including going down a nose to Ranger in the Northerly Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on October 15, Waratah’s Secret claimed a tight win over Grand Nirvana in the Group 3 Prince Of Wales Stakes (1200m).
Last start they were beaten three lengths when third to Ranger and Grand Nirvana in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) on November 5 carrying 59kg with Shaun O’Donnell aboard.
O’Donnell rides Luckygray in the Railway Stakes on Saturday, giving the ride on Waratah’s Secret to Paul Harvey who was aboard for their Prince of Wales Stakes success two starts back.
Waratah’s Secret is equal 57kg topweight in the Railway Stakes field along with Playing God, which is the lightest weight they will have carried since November last year.
It is still more than Harrison was originally looking at as Railway Stakes odds were raised after original topweights Albert The Fat and Wall Street were not accepted.
“I’m happy enough with the horse but I’m not happy about going up half a kilo again,” he said.
The barrier draw for Saturday’s other headline event at Ascot, the 2011 Winterbottom Stakes will be taken tonight 5pm (Perth time) and published first thing on Wednesday right here at Races.com.au
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