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The Darren Weir camp are confident five-time Group 1 champion Black Heart Bart is back to his best ahead of the 2017 Railway Stakes in Perth this weekend.
A winner of over $3.7 million in prize money over his 45 start career to date, which started out in W.A. before the transfer to Weir in Victoria, the still Perth-owned Black Heart Bart carries the 59kg top weight in Saturday’s Group 1 $1 million Railway Stakes (1600m).
The seven-year-old son of Blackfriars hasn’t raced since the team put him away for a freshen-up following a disappointing fifth to Bonneval in the Group 1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield back on October 1.
Before that he enjoyed a trio of top three runs, including a third at Flemington in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) and Group 1 Memise Stakes (1400m) second to Vega Magic.
Black Heart Bart however hasn’t been first past the post since doing the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) – Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) double at Caulfield in February during the autumn.
Back in his home state of WA for the first time since December of 2015, Black Heart Bart is gearing up for a notable return to Perth racing according to Weir’s stable foreman Jarrod McLean who spoke to The Sports Daily this week.
McLean said feet issues and an injury sustained in the Underwood Stakes have plagued Black Heart Bart over the spring, but that the old warhorse was ready to atone presenting fit and “pain free” on Saturday.
“I think we are going to see him at his best,” McLean said.
“We haven’t seen him at his best all spring, but he is pain free and it won’t be fitness that beats him.
“When he is pain free he is dominant and I’m pretty confident we have got him back to that level.”
He contested the 2015 edition of the mile classic when prepared locally by Vaughn Sigley, running fourth to the Chris Waller-trained Good Project.
Waller returns this season with two chances in All Our Roads ($15) drawn out wide with Craig Williams riding and the $6 favourite Tom Melbourne on the rails with Damien Oliver booked for the ride on the last start Group 1 Kennedy Mile (1600m) runner-up at Flemington.
Black Heart Bart meanwhile is currently drawn in last year’s winning barrier (8), but he and regular rider Brad Rawiller could come into six with the four emergencies out.
The other top fancy in the Railway Stakes odds is Lindsey Smith’s reigning champion Scales Of Justice ($6.50) coming off a close third as the beaten favourite in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m).
Scales Of Justice is out to secure successive Railway Stakes victories for the first time since Tudor Mak (1966-67).
Tudor Mak with 61kg for his second in 1967 was also the last Railway Stakes winner to carry more than 58kg to victory, a hoodoo Black Heart Bart will be out to overcome on Saturday.
“He has to carry the weight, but is carrying it because he is a 5 time Group One winner,” McLean said.
“When Brad [Rawiller] eases him out of the straight I’m sure we will see the best horse on Saturday.”
The Weir stable also saddle-up Ulmann ($12) in the Railway Stakes field from gate five on 54.5kg with Damian Lane riding the recent Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) sinner.
“He [Ulmann] is certainly deserving of a spot, but for one on one I have to lean to Black Heart Bart,” McLean said.
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