This Saturday Karnup-based trainer Grant Williams will saddle-up his resuming galloper Ranger against a class field of rivals as the six-year-old makes their new season debut in the 2012 Railway Stakes at Ascot Racecourse, a race they failed to place in as the beaten favourite 12 months ago.
Eighteen final acceptors, 16 of which are assured of a start, make up the field for this year’s $1 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Railway Stakes (1600m), Perth’s richest race to run as Ascot Race 9 at 4:35pm (local time).
Winner-on-protest last year Luckygray tops the Railway Stakes odds for Saturday despite their 58kg top-weight after their impressive first-up victory in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) where they defeated a similar field by two lengths.
Occupying the second line of Railway Stakes betting is then $6.50 chance, local Testa Rossa gelding Ranger.
Ranger, like Luckygray (12), has drawn a double-digit gate for the Railway this year with William Pike to ride them from 10 – into 9 if the emergencies come out.
Twelve months ago Ranger won the Lee Steere Stakes before finishing a below par sixth as the disappointing punters’ pick in the Railway next start having suffered interference near the 600m mark.
From there they went on to finish a brave second to Playing God in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (8100m) and then third in the Group 2 CB Cox Stakes (2100m) to Playing God’s stablemate God Has Spoken – both of which are also in the Railway on Saturday with the Neville Parnham-trained duo paying $15 and $34 respectively.
Connections then made the decision to send Ranger interstate for the first time for the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival.
They failed to finish better than fifth in their three runs in Victoria however, Ranger last seen finishing 13th to subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Green Moon in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on March 10.
They have had three barrier trials since then, winning their last two, most recently over 1400m at Belmont Park by three and a half lengths on November 12 proving that back in Perth they should be ready to fire.
Ranger, who will be ridden by William Pike in the Railway the horse-jockey combo looking for their seventh victory, will also relish coming back to just 53kg having carried 56kg in last year’s race and between 57.5kg and 59kg in their five most recent runs.
The horse is also known to race well fresh so going into the Railway first-up could work in their favour.
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