After a successful visit to Perth with a stakes win on Railway Stakes Day Victorian hoop Ben Melham is set to return to Ascot Racecourse Saturday week for a shot at the 2014 Kingston Town Classic with Smokin’ Joey.
While the highly-spruiked eastern state horses failed to make an impact in their respective races last weekend in Western Australia, visiting Melbournite Melham was able to win the Listed Placid Ark Stakes (1200m) aboard local hope Liberty’s Gem at the meeting.
“It was a solid win, he was able to control the race and did a good job to win under the circumstances,” Melham said on Saturday.
“He stepped up a bit in class today, and he’s still quite raw.
“I think next preparation he is going to make a really nice horse.”
‘Super Saturday’ 2014 was Melham’s first appearance in Perth since he won the 2013 WA Derby with Mystic Prince.
“It’s been good to me WA, so I’m certainly happy to ride here with every chance,” he told Perth Racing.
Another one of his three rides this year was in the day’s marquee race, the $1 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Railway Stakes (1600m) aboard the Wez Hunter-trained Mornington galloper Smokin’ Joey.
Upset 40-1 winner of the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) with Melham in the mount in Adelaide back in May, the Encosta De Lago seven-year-old had failed to really fire since.
His Railway Stakes effort however was very good, the veteran crossing only a length away fourth behind winning local mare Elite Belle.
There’s a strong chance connections of Smokin’ Joey will back the horse up on December 6 in the $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m), which would be his first look at further than a mile.
Having been in the saddle for all seven of the Group 1 winner’s most recent runs, Melham will be the go-to hoop for the Perth classic should Smokin’ Joey accept in the weight-for-age showdown.
The latest Kingston Town Classic odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by the first three over the line in the Railway Stakes with the Grant Williams-trained winner Elite Belle ($6), Chris Waller’s brave third placegetter Moriarty ($6.50) and runner-up Balmont Girl ($7).
Smokin’ Joey may have been only a length off them in the obvious form race for the Kingston Town Classic, but he’s at much juicer odds in betting paying $21.
That’s an equal price as Simon Miller’s Encosta De Lago mare Miss Rose De Lago and last weekend’s WA Guineas third placegetter Say Geronimo – and one he could race better than come Kingston Town Classic Day.
Along with Waller’s Railway Stakes third placegetter the other notable Sydney raider set for a Kingston Town Classic run this year is the Gai Waterhouse-trained Pheidon.
The Al Maher gelding pays $14 to win through Ladbrokes and was last seen running a very close second to Zabisco in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) at Sandown on November 15.
In Perth Pheidon will be ridden by Tommy Berry who is also booked to ride last weekend’s Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes runner-up Waterman’s Bay for Mark Kavanagh in the Group 3 AJ Scahill Stakes (1400m) at the meeting.
To back your early selections for the third and final Perth Group 1 this summer make sure you go to Ladbrokes.com.au where you’ll also be eligible for a bonus bet valued up to $500 to really rev up your end of year punting!