Adelaide trainer Phillip Stokes is out to atone for a previous failed trip to Western Australia’s Perth Summer Racing Carnival when he returns for a shot at the Winterbottom Stakes 2014 Saturday week with his flying four-year-old Éclair Big Bang.
The Savabeel gelding, winner of the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) last September before finishing dead last in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) next start, is tracking well for another Group 1 run this time in the $750,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) on November 22 at Ascot Racecourse.
It will be Éclair Big Bang’s first trip to Perth but Stokes was there back in 2002 for the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) with Squillani who didn’t handled the trip west and finished 14th behind Old Fashion.
“He didn’t travel well and didn’t handle it,” Stokes told The West Australian speaking of his inaugural Festival of Perth Racing runner 12 years ago.
The Morphettville-based Stokes is confident he’s got a better hope on Railway Stakes Day 2014 however with Éclair Big Bang having won two of his three starts this time in.
His latest effort was a narrow victory in the final strides of a 1400m handicap at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day when ridden by Dominic Tourneur from a wide barrier (10 of 13).
Now Éclair Big Bang steps up in class for his third Group 1 run.
“He is a happier horse this preparation and hopefully he can stay that way until next Saturday week,” Stokes said.
Along with the failed Caulfield Guineas bid he also ran in the 2013 Coolmore Stud Stakes and was eighth to Zoustar when dropped back from a mile to 1200m.
Stokes believes the sprint distances are best for the horse for now and plans to stick to the shorter races for the end of this prep at least.
“He attacks the line really hard and he does not relax much at the moment,” Stokes said.
“In saying that, at his last run he did relax which was pleasing.
“He might get out to a trip later, but at this stage we are keeping him to sprinting.”
Expat Perth hoop, the WA-born Tourneur also travels back home for the ride on Éclair Big Bang in the Winterbottom Stakes a win in which would be a proud achievement.
It’s not just the horse in top form ahead of the Group 1 Perth test however, Stokes and Tourneur still celebrating their maiden Group 1 success together with Hucklebuck in the Emirates Stakes at Flemington last Saturday where they enjoyed a hat-trick including Éclair Big Bang’s victory.
Current Winterbottom Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by the Robbie Griffiths-trained mare Angelic Light ($3.50) who ran second behind the world’s top rated sprinter Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) on October 24.
Éclair Big Bang is also well liked in the Winterbottom Stakes odds paying $13 to handle the travelling and the class rise.
He will head over to Perth on Friday and Stokes is keeping him in light work leading up to the trip.
“Because he ran over 1400m (last Saturday) and he flies on Friday, I have kept him fresh, leading him off the pony and swimming,” he said.
“He will have a gallop over there, but I haven’t decided which day yet.”
To back Éclair Big Bang to win the Winterbottom Stakes, the field for which is out next week, visit our preferred online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au today!