A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
One of Sydney’s most successful and entertaining training personalities, Ms Gai Waterhouse has her sights firmly set on the western features this Saturday as she prepares to saddle-up live-wire chances in the two Group 1 events running at Perth’s Ascot Racecourse for Railway Stakes Day.
Waterhouse’s first Group 1 hope on the weekend is classy Starcraft mare Hallowell Belle who goes fourth-up into the $500,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).
The four-year-old is currently paying $5 as the equal second favourite in the Winterbottom Stakes odds following her eye-catching third to Mental in the Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington last start.
Saturday will be the third Group 1 assignment on the trot for Hallowell Belle who also ran fourth to Sea Siren in the Manikato Stakes at the Valley.
She has an excellent record at the highest level with three other Group 1 runs under her belt when prepared by Peter Moody, Hallowell Belle finishing second in the 2011 Blue Diamond Stakes to Sepoy, second to Streama in the 2011 Flight Stakes and fourth to boom filly Atlantic Jewel in the 2011 Thousand Guineas.
And while it is going to be a tough task for any runner in the Winterbottom, Hallowell Belle included, to get the better of boom local sprinter Barakey ($2.35) who is unbeaten in their 10 start career to date Waterhouse rates her mare a top chance.
“There does not seem to be a more consistent sprinting mare in work in Australia,” Waterhouse wrote on her blog.
“She won the Group Two Gilgai down the Flemington straight and was running on extremely well in the Group One Manikato Stakes and Patinack Farm Classic.
“She will be very competitive come Saturday.”
Following the 2012 Winterbottom Stakes is then the meeting’s marquee event, the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m).
In this year’s edition of Perth’s richest race Waterhouse will again be represented by a single-figure fancy with Fat Al paying $7 in the Railway Stakes betting markets.
Drawn ideally in gate four the Al Maher gelding became a Group 1 winner at career start number 10 last month when they took out the Epsom Handicap over the Randwick mile.
They backed up on Emirates Stakes Day at Flemington making their Melbourne debut but ran a below par 12th beaten over six lengths by Happy Trails in the Emirates Stakes when going up from 52kg to 58kg.
Waterhouse hopes they can back to their best in the Railway on Saturday and add another elite level victory to their record.
“There were questions about me taking Fat Al to Perth after he bombed in the Group One Emirates Stakes,” Waterhouse wrote on her blog.
“But I explained to the owners that this striking son of Al Maher may have done too well in the lead up to that race.
“He is not the ‘quickest thinking’ gelding, and the big straight seemed to have fazed him a touch.
“In the past, I have had horses bomb at their first start under certain conditions, only to show the field a clean pair of heels at their next start under the same conditions.
“That is what I expect from Fat Al on Saturday.”
Leading into the Group 1’s meanwhile Waterhouse will also be represented in Ascot Race 6 – the $80,000 Listed Jungle Mist Classic (1200m) by Upon This Rock who jumps from barrier 12 of 15 having finished fourth first-up at Hawkesbury at the start of the month.
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