THE Melbourne Spring Carnival is just about to wind down, which means our focus now shifts across the Nullarbor as the Perth racing carnival kicks into top gear.
The first group one race festival is the Railway Stakes, and the 2017 edition looms as the best-ever running of the time-honoured event.
Never ones to rest on our laurels, the Horse Betting team decided to take an early look at our top five contenders going into the $1 million event.
Black Heart Bart
Quite possibly Western Australia’s best export since Northerly, Black Heart Bart has dominated the east coast of Australia since making the trip across.
Claiming an incredible five group one victories outside Western Australia, the seven-year-old has been a wonderful galloper for Darren Weir since joining the stable in late 2015, but the one title the horse has not claimed is a top-tier triumph in its home state.
Will that change on November 25? The master trainer said he “hoped” BHB drew the 59kg it did heading into the Railway, and if Weir is happy it is usually a pretty good indication that a quality run is in the offing.
We think Black Heart Bart’s homecoming has the potential to be a successful one.
Scales Of Justice
Since claiming the 2016 Railway Stakes in sensational fashion, Scales Of Justice’s career has gone from strength-to-strength.
The horse only just missed out on winning the Kingston Town Classic, a week later and then went on to either win or finish second in its four subsequent races.
We believe you can forget about the east coast runs in the Bobby Lewis Quality and the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, this horse is as Western Australian as Swan Draught and will relish the chance to race in its home state.
Don’t read too much into Lee Streere Stakes where not a lot went right on November 11; that should prove a vital tune up for the galloper which has a sensational second-up record of two wins and three minor placings for six attempts.
Scales Of Justice looks to be one of the horses to beat once again in 2017.
Supply And Demand
Waterhouse and Bott-trained Supply And Demand sent tongues wagging back in the middle of 2017, going on a fantastic four race winning run that culminated by taking out the listed Grafton Cup on July 13.
The horse was then sent out and returned in terrific order, recording back-to-back second placings in a handicap race at Randwick before missing out by just under a length in the Group Three TCL TV Stakes at Flemington on VRC Oaks Day. The gelding was unlucky that day too after the winner skipped away to an early lead on a track that favoured front-runners.
Does Supply And Demand have the class to step up to group one company and make an impact? Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott certainly think so, and it is hard to punt against them given the form they are currently in.
Tom Melbourne being taken to Perth to confront the Railway Stakes will either be viewed as a masterstroke or a massive failure – we feel it will be nothing in between.
Much to the chagrin of the HorseBetting.com.au team, the Irish import has lost four of its last five races by less than a length, two of those by a head. It’s not as if the horse lacks the ability, but more often than not it finds itself in inevitable positions in the run, or just gets beaten by a better galloper on the day.
Will a change of scenery be the catalyst for a return to the winner’s circle?
If you have stuck fat through the spring we’re saying give the gelding one more chance.
There was plenty of buzz around the Lindsay Park five-year-old Sovereign Nation when it won by just over four lengths back in August at Flemington, and the horse has been terrific in its subsequent runs.
Going off as a $21 shot in its next two runs, the son of Encosta de Lago ran a brilliant second behind Tosen Stardom in the Toorak Handicap, and that horse has gone on to claim another group one crown as part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Sovereign Nation will have had almost three weeks since its last start and should be primed to go in the opening group one at Ascot.