A plethora of top Perth gallopers are preparing to head over to Victoria to target the riches of the 2012 Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, the new season campaigns of horses including dual Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God to kick off with an Ascot trial on Monday.
Neville Parnham’s brilliant Blackfriars four-year-old Playing God, a previous visitor to Melbourne, was last seen running away to win their second straight Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 3.
The $1.38 million earner, whose biggest Melbourne success was a third to December Draw in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) last October, is one of seven horses engaged in the eighth trial at Ascot over 1000m this coming Monday.
The two horses that finished second and third behind Playing God in the Kingston Town, Grant Williams’ Testa Rossa five-year-old Ranger and the Trevor Andrews-trained WA Guineas winner King Saul, are also engaged in the Ascot hitout.
Ranger, who was last seen finishing third to Playing God’s stablemate God Has Spoken in the Group 2 C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m) on December 17, is a confirmed Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival contender this season.
They may be withdrawn from Monday’s trial, however, as their flight to Victoria is booked for Tuesday morning.
“He may do or may not, I’m not sure yet,” Ranger’s owner Bob Peters said regarding whether or not they would run in the trial.
“They’ll be there on the flight on Tuesday if everything goes all right.”
Williams and Peters will also send their Perth Cup winning mare Western Jewel to Melbourne this autumn, the Jeune five-year-old set to resume racing at Ascot tomorrow in Race 7 – the $50,000 playeronline.com.au Handicap (1600m).
Drawn on the rails, Western Jewel is paying $5.50 in the Luxbet markets for her first-up run, betting led by Kerrific at $2.90 who comes off a win at the track over 1400m on January 21.
“Western Jewel hasn’t raced for a while and the distance is probably a bit short as well, but we’ll see how she goes,” Peters said.
Western Jewel’s interstate debut is penciled in for Wednesday week in the $200,000 Listed Mornington Cup (2400m), the prelude for which is the $100,000 Listed Reaan Plate (2000m) at Caulfield this Saturday.
Ranger’s major target will be the $1 million Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 10.
In the futures Australian Cup 2012 odds at Luxbet Ranger is rated a $26 chance, markets led by former Melbourne Cup winner Americain at $4.20.
Williams has the $125,000 Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield on Saturday week, February 11, set as Ranger’s first-up run once he arrives in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, smart Flying Pegasus three-year-old King Saul will be aimed at the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and has a tough first-up run penciled in by connections.
They will go to the $175,000 Group 2 Royal Sovereign Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm on February 18, a race also on the agenda for the likes of Golden Rose winner Manawanui, Peter Moody’s unbeaten gelding Moment Of Change and one-time Golden Slipper fancy Salade.
Following the Royal Sovereign, King Saul will progress onto the $200,000 Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill on March 3 with their grand final goal being the $500,000 Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) a fortnight later.
“Provided his trial is satisfactory (on Monday), he’ll fly out on Tuesday,” King Saul’s owner Craig Thompson said.
“We’ll see if he can stack up against those boys like Manawanui.
“He’s fresh and looking a million bucks.”
Thompson also has boom filly Hallowell Belle on track for a strong autumn, the Peter Moody-trained Starcraft three-year-old last seen running fourth to Atlantic Jewel in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 12.
Hallowell Belle, who two starts back finished second to Streama in the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m), could resume in either the $125,000 Group 3 Rubiton Stakes (1100m) or the $125,000 Group 3 Geoffrey Belmaine Stakes (1200m) both running at Caulfield Saturday week, or be saved for a supercharged showdown against Hay List in the $750,000 Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington the following week.
Her big autumn assignment, however is the $1 million Group 1 Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 3, but before any of that she will gallop on Tuesday morning.
“The gallop will determine whether she kicks off next week or in the Lightning,” Thompson said.
“Her main target is the Newmarket Handicap.”
Ante-post markets on the 2012 Newmarket Handicap at Luxbet have Hallowell Belle as a $51 outsider.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest autumn racing field and betting updates.
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