Flemington-based training duo of Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra are confident their two chances for Saturday’s Regal Roller Stakes 2014 are race fit and ready to take on a smart field in the Caulfield clash.
There were originally nine gallopers in the mix for this year’s $120,000 Listed Winslow Group Regal Roller Stakes (1200m).
However the early scratching of the Jarrod Austin-trained Territory has left eight hopefuls fighting it out in the early season springboard.
Two of those come from the stables of Ellerton and Zahra who saddle-up two fit chances in Pillar Of Creation and Hard Stride.
Both horses are at single figures through Ladbrokes.com.au in the Regal Roller Stakes betting markets that have Bletchingly Stakes winning mare Thiamandi ($3.70) and Peter Moody’s triple Group 1 winning track specialist Moment Of Change ($3.80) battling for top spot.
The best fancied of Ellerton and Zahra’s pair meanwhile is Hard Stride at $4.80 drawn in barrier five with ace hoop Craig Williams to ride and who is one of the runners on Saturday Zahra believes will challenge noted frontrunner and hefty 62kg top weight Moment Of Change for the lead.
“Whether Moment Of Change leads with that weight will be interesting,” Zahra told AAP.
“I’m not sure he’d want to lead with that weight.”
Ultra-consistent Street Sense four-year-old Hard Stride gets in on 54kg and comes off a string of four second place finishes including behind Pyrrolic in the Listed Creswick Stakes (1200m) at Flemington from July 12.
The gelding was last seen running one and three quarter lengths off Under The Louvre over 1200m at Moonee Valley, and on Saturday shrugging off placegetter status will be priority.
Zahra is confident Hard Stride’s fitness is there, but does worry whether he is coming to the end of their campaign after a solid winter prep.
“It’s just a matter of whether Hard Stride is coming to the end of his preparation,” he said.
“He’s been up so long so he’s always one run from a spell.”
Stablemate Pillar Of Creation pays $8.50 in the latest Regal Roller Stakes odds, the God’s Own gelding drawn in barrier one with Damian Lane booked for the ride.
The five-year-old is the only other horse aside from the 2014 Memsie Stakes-bound Moment Of Change (62kg) allocated more than the 54kg minimum with 54.5kg.
Lane retains the ride having partnered with the galloper for its past four starts where Pillar Of Creation has finished no worse than fifth.
Enjoying back-to-back Melbourne wins earlier, including over First Course over 1400m at Caulfield carrying 57kg two back, Pillar Of Creation was last seen racing on July 12 when fifth to Nearest To Pin in the Listed All Victorian Sprint Series Final (1200m) down the Flemington straight.
After a freshen-up at owner David Moodie’s property, Pillar Of Creation is ready to fire again at Caulfield where he boasts three wins from five starts according to Zahra.
“Pillar Of Creation has been up to David’s farm for eight or nine days so he’s fresh enough to run the 1200m and he’s well weighted,” Zahra said.
To back the Ellerton – Zahra stablemates to run top three on Saturday visit Ladbrokes.com.au where you’ll get Best Tote or SP on the Regal Roller and all the other PB Lawrence Stakes Day races!