Saturday preview: six things to keep an eye on

12 min read
After a massive few months we are winding down in terms of major races with just the one Group 1 contest taking place this Saturday - the Railway S. in Perth. As always however, there is plenty of interest with stakes races at Cranbourne, Doomben and Pukekohe Park.

Cover image courtesy of Western Racepix

G1 Railway S. - plenty of recent history!

One of WA's major events, the $1.5 million G1 Railway S. was dominated by the Grant and Alana Williams stable between 2018 and 2021 with the couple saddling up the Bob and Sandra Peters-owned winners Galaxy Star (Redoute's Choice), Regal Power (Pierro), Inspirational Girl (NZ) (Reliable Man {GB}) and Western Empire (NZ) (Iffraaj {GB}).

William Pike was aboard all four of those winners and when training solo Grant Williams also cheered home the 2014 winner Elite Belle (Canny Lad), also ridden by Pike.

The stable and Pike combine again on Saturday with the talented and consistent Alsephina (Star Turn) whilst longshot stablemate Casino Seventeen (Casino Prince) will be ridden by Shaun McGruddy who is aiming for his first Railway victory.

Trix Of The Trade, last year's winner of the G1 Railway S. again takes the field this year | Image courtesy of Western Racepix

Last year's running was taken out in emphatic fashion by Trix Of The Trade (Trade Fair {GB}) with Troy Turner again taking the ride. The 5-year-old is not in quite the same form was he was 12 months ago but will strip fitter after getting back from wide gates at his two runs this time in. This time he has drawn barrier one.

He seeks to become only the second horse in this race - one which was first run in 1887 - on two occasions, the only other being Tudor Mak in 1966 and 1967.

Speaking of this race's history, it has on two occasions been won by horses who shared their names with far more famous gallopers - Carbine successful in 1894, also winning the WA Derby - and Man O'War (The Admiral) first across the line in 1907.

Trix Of The Trade is one of the seven 2022 Railway contestants to again line up, alongside Comfort Me (Playing God) who was a tough second off a wide run, Startrade (Trade Fair {GB}) who ran on well to finish third, Last Of The Line (Blackfriars) who was also doing his best work late running fifth, Searchin' Roc's (Awesome Rock) who tired after over-racing, Marocchino (Maschino) who weakened after making the pace and Karli's Karma (Deep Field) who was vetted after a below-best effort.

Tuvalu, the current favourite for the G1 Railway S. at Ascot | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

Not since 2015 has the Railway been taken out by an interstate horse, the Chris Waller-trained Good Project (Not A Single Doubt). This time around he tackles the race with the in-form Roots (Press Statement) who appreciated the addition of blinkers when recording an easy win in the G2 Hot Danish S. last time out.

Topweight Tuvalu (Kermadec {NZ}) is trained by Lindsey Smith who has stables in WA and Victoria and this is his Perth debut. One which he makes on the back of a game on-pace third in the G2 Crystal Mile on WS Cox Plate Day.

Also heading over from Victoria is Forgot You (NZ) (Savabeel) who was back to his best charging home to take out the Listed Cup Day Plate at Flemington.

G2 WA Guineas - Keshi To Boom Again?

Here is another race in which the Grant and Alana Williams boast an outstanding record, one which they look set to further enhance with the exciting filly Keshi Boom (Spirit Of Boom) backing up from her barnstorming victory in last weekend's G3 Champion Fillies S.

Three previous winners have come from their stable - Treasured Star (Toronado {Ire}) in 2021, Arcadia Queen (Pierro) in 2018 and Perfect Jewel (Redoute's Choice) in 2017. All three were steered home by William Pike who again takes the ride on Keshi Boom having been aboard for all four of her impressive victories from as many starts.

It has not been long since a Champions Fillies winner has reappeared a week later to also take out this race - Watch Me Dance (I'm All The Talk) completing the double just three years ago.

Grant Williams, William Pike and Alana Williams look to add to their already outstanding record in the WA Guineas with Keshi Boom | Image courtesy of Western Racepix

Arcadia Queen also won both races though when she did so she was the first since Queen Of The May (Meadow Mist {GB}) in 1959.

The race sees Keshi Boom again clash with Super Smink (Super One) with the two vying for early favouritism.

The only other horse under double-figure odds is Zipaway (Playing God) whose trainer Neville Parnham saddled up that horse's sire to win this race in 2010.

Keshi Boom, the current favourite for the G2 WA Guineas at Ascot | Image courtesy of Western Racepix

Playing God is yet to sire a winner of this race but has another two representatives - Investmentstrategy who impressed taking out the Listed Fairetha S. a couple of weeks ago and Rope Them In who was a game second in that same race.

Parnham certainly knows how to win it having also been successful with War Saint (War Chant {USA}) in 2019, Rommel in 2014 and Royal Retrieve (Royal Abjar {USA}) in 2001.

Listed Cranbourne Cup - two in a row for Busuttin and Young?

Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young were a happy couple after taking out their home-track feature last spring with the imported galloper Uncle Bryn (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) and they are hoping to make it two in a row as they saddle up this year's favourite Foxy Cleopatra (American Pharoah {USA}).

Doing a great job finishing off strongly for a G3 HKJC S. third at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day, the lightly raced 4-year-old was having her first run in 12 months having sustained a suspensory injury when contesting the G1 VRC Oaks.

Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young look to make it two wins in a row in the Listed Cranbourne Cup after winning last year with Uncle Bryn (GB) | Image courtesy of The Image Is Everything

Racing only five times to date, she certainly has plenty of upside and second-up in her debut campaign she recorded a very easy win over the same distance at Moonee Valley.

Craig Williams takes the ride on Foxy Cleopatra, hoping to add a fourth Cranbourne Cup to his trophy cabinet having been successful aboard Dr Drill (GB) (Dansili {GB}) in 2019, Majestical (NZ) (Montjeu {Ire}) in 2008 and Main Strike (Pre Emptive Strike {Can}) in 1994.

The latter's win was a particularly special one for the popular hoop - he was still at school at the time, winning the race as a 17-year-old on the horse trained by his father Allan Williams.

Foxy Cleopatra looks to become the third locally trained winner in a row of the Listed Cranbourne Cup | Image courtesy of Racing Photos

Should Foxy Cleopatra salute she will be the third locally trained winner in a row with the Robbie Griffiths and Mathew de Kock galloper King Magnus (Magnus) taking the Cup home two years ago, missing out on a second crack this year due to a bruised heel.

Just Folk (Magnus), Ascension (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}), Charterhouse (GB) (Charming Thought {GB}) and Euphoric (Sebring) all also call Cranbourne home and each of the four are in with decent chances - each of them suited should the predicted rain make its way to Cranbourne.

Granted black-type status in 1979, the Cranbourne Cup since that time has been won by 19 horses who have gone onto further stakes success though in the case of many of those horses, they won it when it was run in early October.

Euphoric, the current favourite for the Listed Cranbourne Cup | Image courtesy of Racing Photos

Notable winners include Noble Comment (Scarletville {Ire}) who a month later ran second to Kiwi (NZ) (Blarney Kiss {USA}) in the G1 Melbourne Cup, On A Jeune (Jeune {GB}) who was runner-up in the following year's Melbourne Cup won by Makybe Diva (GB) (Desert King {Ire}), Brave Chief (Hula Chief {NZ}) who five weeks later won the G2 Sandown Classic, Lisa's Game (Umatilla {NZ}) who 10 days later ran second in the G1 Caulfield Cup and a couple of horses who went onto Group 1 success - Bush Padre (Redding {NZ}) and Mourinho (Oratorio {Ire}).

Listed action at Doomben - Tattersall's Classic and Recognition S.

It's a particular even running of the Listed Tattersall's Classic this year, the 1200-metre contest for fillies and mares attracting a field of 12 horses with five of those opening at $6 and under!

Extremist (Extreme Choice) and Ekaterina (Russian Revolution) represent the Robert Heathcote stable, that trainer already successful in this race with Stella Victoria (Foxwedge) in 2018. The former faced the breeze and was still too strong taking out the Listed Keith Noud S. last time out whilst the latter has earned a crack at better company having impressed winning her last two at Eagle Farm.

Comrade Rosa, the current favourite for the Listed Tattersall's Classic at Doomben | Image courtesy of Trackside Photography

Comrade Rosa (Capitalist) did not have much luck from a tricky gate when finishing off strongly for a Keith Noud fourth - jumping from barrier four this time. Her trainer Tony Gollan has won this race three times - with Notonyourlife (Sebring) in 2017, Niedorp (Not A Single Doubt) in 2020 and Miami Fleiss (Spirit Of Boom) two years ago.

Chris Munce has also won this race on multiple occasions - though as a jockey! This time he attempts success as a trainer, saddling up Aureus Angel (Turffontein) who flies fresh and who has trialled well. Eagle Nest (Shalaa {Ire}) is the other leading contender, earning fans having led throughout to win her last three in NSW.

The Listed Recognition S. follows and there is a shorter-priced favourite lining up in this 1350-metre contest for all ages... Zarastro (I Am Invincible) well-fancied on the back of his on-pace Keith Noud second when resuming from a break.

Zarastro, the current favourite for the Listed Recognition S. at Doomben | Image courtesy of Trackside Photography

His main threats are Scallopini (Snitzel) who boasts excellent first-up form, Startantes (Star Turn) who has drawn better than she did when getting back and finishing off well in the Keith Noud and The Vowels (Better Than Ready) who has won a Gold Coast trial since his last run.

G2 Thoroughbred Breeders' S. - the race won twice by the mighty Sunline

Some lovely fillies have won this race over the course of its history; a race run from 1970 to 1978 as a Principal race, from 1979 to 1987 as a Group 3 and since then as a Group 2 and this year run as Race 9 at Pukekohe.

Several of its winners had already enjoyed success at the elite level and six went on to win Group 1 races - the mighty Sunline (NZ) (Desert Sun {GB}) who won this in 1999 and 2000 as well as La Mer (NZ) (Copenhagen {GB}), Lycra (NZ) (Tights {USA}), Calveen (NZ) (Canny Lad) and Gaze (NZ) (Cape Cross {Ire}).

Sunline (NZ) won back-to-back editions of the G2 Thoroughbred Breeders' S. in 1999 and 2000 | Image courtesy of Sportpix

The race has also been won on 13 occasions by mares who have gone on to produce stakes winners with three being Group 1 producers - Bellota (NZ) (Oakville {GB}) the dam of the controversial G1 Perth Cup winner Rocket Racer (NZ) (Balmerino {NZ}) and the G1 AJC Oaks winner Starzaan (NZ) (Zamazaan {Fr}), Grey Invader (NZ) (Brilliant Invader) producing the G1 NZ 1000 Guineas and G1 Thorndon Mile winner Pace Invader (NZ) (Westminster {NZ}) and Fun On The Run (NZ) (Racing Is Fun {USA}) the triple Group 1-winning sprinter/miler Tall Poppy (NZ) (Kaapstad {NZ}).

It's an even running to this year's contests with a number of chances including Our Alley Cat (NZ) (Atlante) who comes off a strong all-the-way victory in the Listed Spring Sprint, Campionessa (NZ) (Contributer {Ire}) who is back in class after tackling Group 1 company, Malt Time (Adelaide {Ire}) who was a Group 1 runner up two starts ago, Tevere (NZ) (Contributer {Ire}) who was good to the line after finding early trouble in the G3 Sweynesse S. and Wolverine (NZ) (Tivaci) who has campaigned well in Australia - as well as Faraglioni (NZ) (El Roca) and Flamebird (Shooting To Win) who both look to be on the up.

Our Alley Cat (NZ), the current favourite for the G2 Thorougbred Breeders' S. at Pukekohe | Image courtesy of Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

The 2-year-olds

There is juvenile action in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday with the latter hosting the only 2-year-old stakes race for the weekend - the Listed Challenge S. at Pukekohe Park.

First start winners Poetic Champion (NZ) (Super Seth) and Savaglee (NZ) (Savabeel) are fighting out favouritism - a case of a new boy and a veteran in regards to their sires. The latter is also represented by Macaluso (NZ) who debuts on the back of a trial victory. Stablemate Ardrossan too has the Te Akau-trained Maracatu, the gelding looking to win second-up.

Poetic Champion (NZ), the current favourite for the Listed Challenge S. at Pukekohe | Image courtesy of Peter Rubery (Race Images Palmerston North)

Also a major chance is the Australian-bred Velocious, a Written Tycoon filly who overcame some trouble in running to record a smart win at her Te Rapa debut.

In Race 2 at Doomben, Newgate Farm's Tassort has made a most encouraging start to his stud career and his Rockhampton debut winner Astapor is one of the two last-start winners lining up - the other being Mishani Ego by another in-form stallion from the same sireline; Aquis Farm's Kobayashi.

Astapor, pictured as a yearling, the current favourite for Race 2 at Doomben | Image courtesy of Magic Millions

The Crystal Slipper S. at Ascot has attracted 12 runners with only three of those having previously faced the starter including the all-the-way Ascot winner Onemoretwomany, another by Tassort.

Battle Commander (Rommel) was a game second in that same race, Think Lika Winner (Sessions) was fourth. Just the one first-season stallion is represented - Pretey Royal being a Lark Hill trial winner by Leneva Park's Royal Meeting (Ire).

Saturday preview
Six things to keep an eye on