The Western Australian Turf Club will host WA Champion Fillies Day at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday, with the highlight events being the Group 3 WA Champion Fillies Stakes and the Listed $500,000 Placid Ark Stakes. This is the first day of the newly named five-day event, The Pinnacles, for the Perth Summer Carnival. The track is currently rated a Good 4 and we expect it to stay in that rating until race day. The rail will be in the 6m position on Saturday, and racing gets underway at 12:28pm AWST.
Keep reading for our free race-by-race preview and quaddie selections
Race 1: Platinum Series Heat 3 (1400m)
The first race on WA Champion Fillies Day will be a heat of the Platinum Series over 1400m and we think that the Brock Lewthwaite-trained So Likable will be very tough to beat after a very good first-up win at Kalgoorlie on October 29. This four-year-old son of Demerit jumped very quickly and took up an uncontested lead last start and was allowed to run at his own pace and got away with some cheap mid-race sectionals, which ultimately allowed him to kick off the home bend and run away with an easy victory. If this guy jumps like he did last start from barrier one and he gets sole control of this race, he will be very hard to beat once again.
Our next best bet on the program will be the Simon Miller-trained Stellar Vista, who has been outstanding this preparation winning all three of her starts, with all her starts being at 1400m. At her most recent start this five-year-old mare won by a nose on the line on November 5, and she showed signs that she could be looking for the extra 200m, which is what she will get in this 1600m event on Saturday. There is an old saying in horse racing, “follow mares in form”, and this daughter of Star Witness is one of the most in-form mares in Western Australia right now. We expect the $4.20 on offer with online bookmakers to shorten before Saturday as it looks to be slightly overs.
The Adam Durrant-trained Category Three looks to be a real up-and-comer after she ran home from the back strongly over 1100m first-up, to finish second behind Street Parade on October 29 at Ascot. This lightly raced four-year-old mare has only missed the top two once in her four career starts and we don’t expect her to miss the top two once again here, when she steps up to 1200m. After returning to Perth this week, William Pike will take the ride on this daughter of Xtravagant, which will be his first sit on her and that will only increase her chances on Saturday. Jumping from barrier nine is no concern for this mare as she likes to get back in her races and run on down the outside with her blistering turn of foot.
One of the better bets at Ascot on Saturday will be the Simon Miller-trained It’sarayday who brings the best form from his most recent start where he finished fifth behind Miss Conteki in the Group 3 Prince Of Wales Stakes. This four-year-old gelding didn’t get a whole lot of running room and luck on the home bend, but he still showed a great turn of foot running home in between horses to finish 2.5 lengths behind the winner. Holy Watson will retain the ride on Saturday and with the aid of her 1.5kg claim and jumping from barrier seven, this guy should get every chance to find a good position mid-field and not settle as far back as he has at his last two starts over 1000m. Rising to 1200m is a massive positive for this son of Winning Rupert, who has a very good record at the distance, recording two wins and two placing in six starts.
Our best value bet of the day will come up in the Listed Luckygray Stakes over 1800m, where we will be siding with the Adam Durrant-trained Utgard Loki, who will be second-up on Saturday and coming off an underwhelming performance at Northam first-up. This son of Frost Giant likes to race on-pace in his races, but after jumping from barrier nine first-up Lucy Warwick chose to take her medicine and drop to the back of the field. This gelding doesn’t have the same turn of foot and many backmarkers do, so that could explain the sub-par performance. However, on Saturday this seven-year-old gelding will jump from barrier one and Warwick will retain the ride, so look for her to be positive and lead or sit outside the leader and if Warwick pushes the button at the 600m mark, she will give them something to catch in the home straight.
The feature event of the day at Ascot will be the Group 3 $300,000 WA Champion Fillies Stakes over 1600m for the three-year-old fillies. The top four fillies in race book order all met last start in the Listed Burgess Queen Stakes, where the winner of that race and our top tip for the feature, Laced Up Heels reigned supreme. The Luke Fernie-trained filly was very impressive last start when she beat the Western Australia’s star filly, Amelia’s Jewel, by half-a-length. This girl has drawn barrier 10 of 12, which will give jockey Chris Parnham some pre-race headaches. However, she has a blistering turn of foot and if she gets to the outside on the home turn and gets luck in running, she should be beating these fillies once again and claiming her first Group race victory.
The Group 3 Colonel Reeves Stakes over 1100m for the speedsters will be one of the most interesting races of the day, as we will see the young rising stars; Miss Conteki and This’ll Testya, taking on the older sprinting stars; Indian Pacific, Elite Street and Laverrod. There will be a lot of speed in this race so we will be looking for one of the backmarkers to swoop over the top of them late. We were with the Simon Miller-trained Miss Conteki when she took out the Group 3 Prince of Wales Stakes over 1000m, and we don’t see any reason as to why we shouldn’t be with her once again on Saturday. This six-year-old mare has never been beaten at 1100m and she has won 10 of her 13 starts at Ascot throughout her career. This daughter of Eurozone is a legitimate star of the turf and on Saturday we expect her to be too good for this field and fly by her rivals late to take out back-to-back Group 3 races.
The $500,000 Listed Placid Ark Stakes will be for the three-year-old sprinters over 1200m. The main market fancies; Baby Paris and All Show, met at their previous starts in the Placid Ark Prelude over 1000m at Ascot on October 29. In that race, Baby Paris was running away from All Show on the line, indicating to us that the Colin Webster-trained Baby Paris is the one to follow, rising up to 1200m second-up on Saturday. This three-year-old daughter of Playing God has won four of her first five starts for her career and she was ultra-impressive winning first-up after sitting on a hot speed. This girl has drawn barrier 13 of 13, but she looks to be the class horse in this field and if she can slot in mid-field and get to the outside on the final corner, we should be seeing this girl run home strongly and win again.
Our best bet will come up in the very last race of the day as Bob Peters will look to win the race named in his honour, the Group 3 RJ Peters Stakes, with his horse Devoted. The Michael Grantham-trained four-year-old gelding is on a Railway Stakes campaign, but he will need to win this race on Saturday to ensure that he will qualify for the final field in two weeks’ time. At his first two starts this preparation at 1400m, this gelding has been below his best. He won all three of his starts last preparation as a three-year-old, including the Listed Belmont Guineas. William Pike will re-unite with this gelding after riding him this time last year, where he recorded a win and a placing from three rides. We don’t expect the $2.15 with online bookmakers to last long on race day, so if you like him, we suggest betting early.