Co-trainer Michael Hawkes believes Sydney raider Messene is in career best form as he prepares for a run in Perth’s 2015 Railway Stakes at Ascot Racecourse this weekend.
A seven-year-old son of Lonhro, the gelding has his first run at the track in elite level company taking on 14 rivals in the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) on the first major meeting of the Perth Summer Racing Carnival.
Drawn a treat in barrier two, which last produced a Railway Stakes winner in 2005 with Covertly saluting from the gate 10 years ago, Messene has Damian Browne in the saddle on 56.5kg.
He is the second heaviest weighted in the Railway Stakes field this season, the weights led by Vaughn Sigley’s flying Blackfriars five-year-old Black Heart Bart (58kg) coming off three straight wins including the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) where he carried 59kg to victory at the track on November 7.
Messene meanwhile had his final lead-up on a Soft (5) Flemington track in Melbourne on Victoria Derby Day where he could only manage to run a well-beaten eighth when six lengths off the winner Disposition in the Group 3 Chatham Stakes (1400m).
That followed on from solid form this spring in Sydney including his third to Vashka in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill and his fourth when two and a half lengths off Chris Waller’s subsequent Cox Plate winning mare Winx in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) over the Randwick mile on October 3.
Boasting a strong four-from-seven record over Saturday’s distance of 1600m, Hawkes is hoping the ageing sprinter – miler can lift and atone for his last start failure where he didn’t like the track conditions or the Melbourne way of going.
Despite dropping two kilos back from 58.5kg last start, Hawkes knows Messene still gives plenty of weight away to some top class rivals this weekend including the Grant Williams-trained favourite Delicacy (54kg) who shoots for her third Group 1 win.
The smart mare is second-up on Saturday and pays $4.20 in the latest Railway Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on the mile feature.
She is followed closely in Railway Stakes betting by Perth Cup winning mare Real Love ($4.80) who Damien Oliver rides this weekend after Perth’s number one jockey William Pike opted to stay aboard the favourite even from her wide barrier 15 (into 14) draw.
The other best in betting are Black Heart Bart ($5) shooting for his fourth win from as many runs this time in and the Chris Waller-trained market mover Good Project ($7.50) who has Craig Williams over for the ride.
Messene meanwhile isn’t far behind the single figure fancies paying $12 to return to his best form, the nine-time winner looking to break a notable winning drought that goes back to his 2014 Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) win in March of last year.
“He hasn’t won for a very long time but he’s probably in career-best form,” Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his brother Wayne and Hall of Fame father John, told AAP this week.
“The horse has travelled well and I’ve got a little twinkle in my eye that he’s going to perform at his best.”
To back your Railway Stakes favourites at Best Tote or SP + 20% before the race jumps as Ascot Race 8 at 4:35pm (local time) on Saturday, make sure you’ve got an account online with Ladbrokes.com.au who are the sole bookmaker down under offering this exclusive promo!