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In-form five-year-old Ranger may be the clear cut favourite to win the Railway Stakes 2011 on Saturday but he isn’t the only hopeful lining up for Karnup-based horseman Grant Williams who makes a four-pronged attack on the million dollar showdown this year.
Boasting the largest number of acceptors of any trainer for this year’s $1 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Railway Stakes (1600m) at Perth’s Ascot Racecourse, Williams seems to have a stranglehold over the markets with Ranger sitting pretty at the top of the Luxbet markets at a quote of $3.60.
Seeking their fourth win on the trot Ranger was last seen winning the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) by an easy two lengths and will be joined in the Railway Stakes field on Saturday by three of their stablemates.
“His last run was really good, it was probably his personal best,” Williams said of Ranger in the Lee Steere.
“We’ve always had a pretty big opinion of him, he’s taken a few runs to work it out but the ease he went past them was a surprise.”
Tranquility is the next shortest-priced of Williams’ Railway Stakes contingent, the consistent five-year-old daughter of Redoute’s Choice paying $17 to cause an upset through Luxbet.
Third to $5.50 Railway Stakes second elect Luckygray two starts back in the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m), Tranquility looked improved and on track for more last Saturday finishing a nose behind fellow Railway hopeful Westriver Kevydonn in the Group 3 RJ Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot.
Stepping up to the mile will suit Tranquility even more, the mare a proven performer over more ground having won over 1650m at Belmont Park last June, run second in the Listed Belmont Guineas over the mile, and won the Listed La Trice Classic over 1800 metres at Ascot last December.
There is certainly plenty to suggest Tranquility will be competitive on Saturday, especially as one of the 53kg lightweights of the field, but she has suffered a blow drawing the extreme outside barrier.
“(Tranquility is) close to our best chance on the minimum (weight),” Williams said.
“She’s a very nice horse (and her) last run was a super effort.”
Lords Ransom is the next for Williams in the Railway Stakes odds at a juicy price of $41 followed by $151 roughie of the field Battle Emblem.
Drawn ideally in barrier four and due to be ridden by Brad Parnham, eight-year-old Jeune gelding Lords Ransom will be racing third up for the season on Saturday.
First-up they finished last beaten five and a half lengths by $16 Railway Stakes chance Waratah’s Secret in the Group 3 Prince Of Wales Stakes (1200m) before their last-start seventh five lengths behind Ranger in the Lee Steere.
A genuine staying type, Lords Ransom races best over 2000 metres plus as proven in 2009 when they ran fifth in the Railway Stakes and then 11th in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) before their strong win in the Group 2 CB Cox Stakes (2100m) and then their victory in the Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) on New Year’s Day.
“He’ll probably be around the mark this week, 1600 metres now he’s had a couple of trials and a couple of runs he’s starting to get a little more dower,” Williams said of Lords Ransom who prior to the Prince of Wales had a year on the sidelines.
While Battle Emblem may have been forgotten by the bookies and the punters at their triple-figure price through Luxbet, Williams isn’t discounting them completely.
The eight-year-old Second Empire gelding has been thereabouts on the provincial circuit and at Belmont Park this year including their win in the Listed Pinjarra Cup (2300m) back in April.
A close third when beaten only a quarter length by Grand Nirvana in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) back in June was followed by more close finishes including their one length away second to God Has Spoken in the Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m) during the winter.
More recently Battle Emblem was narrowly regulated to third in the Listed Boulder Cup (1760m) at Kalgoorlie before their second in the Kalgoorlie Cup (2300m).
They were last seen finishing five lengths away eight to Ranger in the Lee Steere, their failure to step up at Ascot against a class field explaining their long-shot status for Saturday.
“He’s been racing in this company for a couple of years so he’s used to it,” Williams explained.
“(The mile is) the perfect trip.
“(He’s a) bit of a smokey at long odds.”
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