Saturday’s 2011 Kingston Town Classic favourite Luckygray may have come up with the ‘visitor’s draw’ for the $500,000 showdown, but their local Ascot-based trainer Gino Poletti is keeping his chin up and hopes high.
Four-year-old Luckygray, fresh off a win-on-protest in the Railway Stakes, drew barrier 14 of 14 for their second elite level assignment in the Group 1 GR Engineering Kingston Town Classic (1800m) this weekend.
The horror gate saw the $875,000 stakes earner drift out in their price to become the fourth Railway Stakes – Kingston Town Classic double winner in a single season.
The country’s leading online bookmaker Luxbet now have the in-form grey at a quote of $2.90, Luckygray as short as $2.60 prior to the Kingston Town Classic barriers being drawn.
For the Railway Stakes Luckygray jumped from barrier 12 of 16 to cross second behind Kiwi raider He’s Remarkable.
A protest by his jockey Shaun O’Donnell for interference, however, saw them awarded the win.
So they have shown they can race competitively from double-digits, but having drawn off the field in a race that looks on paper to be a genuine staying test could be a different story.
Luckygray is a bred-sprinter, and even the mile win on their record from the Railway Stakes is a lucky one to have.
Their sire Bradbury’s Luck started just six times for two wins, including the 2005 Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast, and never started over a distance greater than 1200 metres.
As for their dam, Mukaddamah mare Damah Lady, she won four of her 22 starts the longest being over 1400 metres only.
Poletti said that the 1800 metres would likely be the absolute maximum distance for Luckygray and that he had been working well in the lead-up to his big stamina test.
“It’s a different race,” he said.
“We’re in stayer’s territory now and it’s a tough race.
“He’s not a bred stayer and he’s too brilliant to be a stayer so this is probably his mark.”
While the distance and draw are both issues, Poletti remains confident that Luckygray will run a competitive race on Saturday and said that being a small horse they were better in 14 than 1.
“We’ll have a game plan come race day and so far everything’s worked well for Shaun (O’Donnell) and I,” he said.
“In this sort of race, I would have liked to have drawn somewhere between five and nine but I’ve pulled this one out so we’ll devise a plan around that.”
Last year’s Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God jumped from gate eight, and has this year drawn to perfection in barrier five as the $16 Luxbet chance defends their crown.
While Playing God won from a single-digit draw 12 months ago, history shows that a wide barrier in the Kingston Town Classic is not the end of the world.
Sniper’s Bullet, also the last horse to take out the Railway – Kingston Town double, jumped and won from 16 of 16 in 2009 while the year before the David Hayes-trained Niconero overcame gate 14 of 16 to take out the Classic.
Hayes is back this year seeking another win in the country’s final Group 1 race for the year, the Flemington-based horseman represented by Galileo five-year-old Spacecraft ($35 Luxbet) in barrier seven who comes off an eighth in the Railway.
Check out the full Kingston Town Classic odds and markets open now at the country’s leading online bookmaker Luxbet.