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Trainer Neville Parnham has confirmed his reigning Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God will be there on Saturday looking to secure the title again in 2011 despite their disappointing effort in the Railway Stakes last start.
Blackfriars four-year-old Playing God was originally in doubt for this year’s edition on the $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m), the $1 million earner having run 14th in the Railway Stakes on November 19 in their first run back home following a testing Melbourne Spring Carnival campaign.
Parnham, however, has decided to press onto the Kingston Town with Playing God after they worked well in a solo gallop on Tuesday proving their recent training changes, including plenty of beach work, may have done the job.
“He’s adapted well to the new style of training and I’m looking forward to seeing if that’s reinvigorated him for Saturday,” Parnham said.
“It’s a task, but I’m confident he’ll be able to turn it around and be competitive.”
After winning four of their five starts in WA last spring, Playing God had mixed results this season.
Sent to Victoria in September they ran five times throughout the carnival but failed to finish better than third, which was in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) to December Draw at Flemington on October 2.
Their culminating Melbourne appearance was an 11th place finish to Pinker Pinker in the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m), a run that took a lot out of Playing God who was disappointed for a run throughout after jumping from barrier 13 of 14.
Steven Parnham has partnered with WA Horse of the Year Playing God for all but three of their 21 career starts, and will be there again on Saturday.
Admitting that the champ didn’t perform up to par in the Railway, Steven said the horse had been showing all the signs that they were ready to bounce back and credited the new training techniques his father Neville had been employing with much of Playing God’s improvement.
“He raced probably flat and didn’t quite go up to our expectations (in the Railway),” he said.
“He pulled up fine from the run but dad took him out to the farm and just changed his routine up taking him to the beach and he’s thriving on that.
“He seems to be jumping out of his skin now so that’s a good sign.”
As for Tuesday’s work, Steven was thrilled with what Playing God showed him in the gallop, giving the young hoop confidence heading into Saturday’s big test.
“It was good, we didn’t want to have a hard galloper, he’s fit and well and we just wanted to have a little workout and he was nice and strong and we were happy with it,” he said.
In regards to the class of Playing God’s rivals in this year’s Kingston Town Classic field, Steve Parnham said it was three-year-old WA Guineas winner King Saul that looked one of the toughest to beat.
He would know too, having ridden last year’s Guineas winner Playing God to victory as a three-year-old in the Kingston 12 months ago.
“He (King Saul) gets a big advantage with the weight and he certainly ran well the other day so you’ve got to respect his chances,” he said.
While also wary of the Kingston Town Classic favourite Luckygray, Parnham said that their weight rise from 53kg for the Railway to 58.5kg on Saturday could be their undoing.
“Luckygray’s obviously done a great job in the Railway (but he) does go up a lot in weight,” he said.
And the final say on Playing God’s chances.
“We’re going in with our fingers crossed but this time we’ve changed his routine and hopefully sparked up a bit of interest in him and I think he’s going in the right direction,” Parnham said.
Playing God sits as a $17 shot in the latest Kingston Town Classic odds at Luxbet, Luckgray the $2.60 favourite.
Prices on the final 14 are likely to change after today’s Kingston Town Classic barrier draw, so now is the time to back your selections at Luxbet.
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