Eagle Farm horseman Danny Bougoure is hoping a lightly raced mare can be the one to break his Group 1 duck this weekend when he lines up the progressive Longport against a crack 2013 Railway Stakes field in Perth.
The four-year-old daughter of Casino Prince is currently installed as the equal $7.50 second pick to win in the pre-field markets for Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot Racecourse.
Betting on the classic is led by Emirates Stakes runner-up Smokin’ Joey ($5.50) while Longport is the next best fancied along with fellow Queensland-based mare, the Rob Heathcote-trained Fire Up Fifi.
Bougoure has prepared Lonport for her two runs this time in, the mare previously with John Thompson.
Thompson trained her to win three races from 12 starts, most notably the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1500m) during last year’s Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.
She was also runner-up to Norzita in that year’s Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) and fourth to Commanding Jewel in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) in Melbourne one run later.
Her Group 1 racing experience is plentiful, most recently a distant 5th to Royal Descent in the Australian Oaks when stepped up to 2400m for the first time on an testing Heavy (10) Randwick track back in April.
A six and a half month spell followed, during which time she joined Bougoure in Brisbane for new connections who purchased her from $800,000 at Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm sales.
Longport debuted for her new trainer at Flemington on Derby Day when ninth to Fontelina from an awkward barrier 15 of 15 draw in the Group 2 Yellowglen Stakes (1200m).
She improved on that performance to post her fourth career win on November 9 with a tidy one and a quarter length effort over Henwood in a four-year-old plus handicap over 1400m back at Flemington.
Now she travels west for a shot at the Railway Stakes, dropping from 57.5kg last start to just 53.5kg, a race Bougoure believes she can be competitive in with that weight.
“She has to be a very good chance. I had a look at her on (Friday) and she looks fantastic,” Bougoure, who has never travelled to Perth before, told the Courier Mail on Sunday.
“She has just thrived in Melbourne with a bit of cooler weather.
“It’s worth $1 million and it would be nice to get the biscuits.
“I thought if she got 54 kilos or less she’d get in pretty well so I was pretty happy when the handicapper gave her 53.5kg.”
Bougoure’s only minor concern is the likelihood of a Good-rated surface at Ascot with hot weather in Perth ensuring a dry track.
“A dead surface is always best for horses but whatever the weather throws up we’ve got to put up with and adapt as best we can,” Bougoure told AAP.
“It’s probably going to be a fair bit warmer than what she’s used to but hopefully she’ll cope OK with it.”
There to help her out will be jockey Craig Newitt who replaces Nash Rawiller in the Group 1, and who Bougoure will instruct to take her out front from the jump.
“She’s got natural gate speed once she gets over 1400 metres and further and you would think the mile would suit her ideally around Ascot,” the trainer said.
“Her blood count is perfect so all indications are that she’s come through the run at Flemington really well.”
There’s also a chance she will stay on in Perth for the $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) on December 7.
“Initially we wanted to give her three or four runs max this prep then get her ready for something in Sydney during the autumn like the Coolmore or Doncaster,” he said.
Looking further ahead to the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, he admitted the $600,000 Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) for the fillies and mares at Rosehill on March 22, 2014, was the preferred target.
“The number one priority at the moment is the Coolmore,” Bougoure said.
“Obviously she’s going to run into Red Tracer but it would be a nice race to use as a lead into something like the Doncaster.”
The $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m) then runs at Royal Randwick on April 19.
The official Railway Stakes 2013 final field is due for release soon with barriers for the Perth Group 1’s out on Tuesday.
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