Perth horseman Neville Parnham is confident his interstate visitor Rommel can measure up to the field of new rivals he faces in Melbourne on Saturday in the Australian Guineas 2015.
With WA expat Disposition ruled out of Flemington’s $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) with injury, the hopes for a Perth horse to win the three-year-olds’ classic now lies with Parnham’s Commands colt Rommel.
Of the capacity field of 16 starters, plus one emergency, engaged in this weekend’s Australian Guineas field, the Wez Hunter-trained Disposition was the only horse Rommel has previously encountered.
The two met when Rommel beat the now Victorian-based Disposition home in the Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m) back at Ascot last November.
Disposition franked that form going on to run second to Moriarty in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) in December and then finish second in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) in his Melbourne debut on February 21.
Rommel also stacked up in his opening Melbourne run last Saturday defeating Galaxy Pegasus in the Group 3 Zeditave Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield, and will now look to do the same at Flemington in tougher company this weekend.
“It’s always difficult when you’re lining up against (new) horses,” Parnham told Racing Victoria.
“In the past the only one he’s raced against is Disposition and I know he’s a very good horse in his own right.
“If he’s the measuring stick (it’s a good sign). His run a fortnight ago was very good and if he can go as good as him we’re certainly a chance of running in the money.”
While it is a whole new ballgame for the galloper, Parnham remains confident that he can handle the rise in class and the seven-day back-up to run competitively in the Australian Guineas having benefited from the experience of his last start.
“It was two days to the race (that he arrived), so it was a pretty sound effort I think,” Parnham said of the Zeditave Stakes effort.
“He’ll take a fair bit of benefit from it.
“He went to the beach this morning.
“We’ll do a bit of fast work tomorrow (Thursday) and that will just top him off for Saturday.”
His son Steven Parnham is in the saddle this weekend taking over for younger brother Chris who was aboard for the Zeditave Stakes win with the former committed to a full book of rides back home in Perth last Saturday.
“Steve’s his regular rider, but I just had commitments for him in Perth last Saturday,” Parnham explained.
“Not knowing exactly what I was going to do until probably Friday, the horse had to travel for the first time on a plane and lob here and eat and acclimatise, just do all those little thing that you need to have the little ducks in a line.
“So I said to him you’re better off being in Perth and Chris being here and not having a ride in the race I just put him on it.”
Rommel drew well in barrier six for the Australian Guineas, a gate that last produced a winner when Craig Williams rode Miss Finland to victory back in 2007 when for one year the race took place at Caulfield.
Williams, who also won last year aboard the Danny O’Brien-trained Shamus Award, though is without a chance at back-to-back victories this weekend having been booked to ride Disposition.
Australian Guineas favourite is the Chris Waller-trained Kermadec to be ridden by Nash Rawiller from barrier eight, the horse having won his only previous Melbourne run in Group 3 company at Flemington during the spring.
The other major hopes out to stop Rommel in the Group 1 include Gai Waterhouse’s CS Hayes Stakes winner Wandjina, the flying Tony McEvoy-trained Alpine Eagle after his fourth on the trot and Tasmanian visitor Admiral who defeated The Cleaner in the Apple Isle on Launceston Cup Day.
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