Aquanita Stakes Blockbuster

7
Jul

Last Sunday in Brisbane boxers Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquao were involved in a world title fight slugfest in front of 50,000 adoring fans.

Both fighters went toe-to-toe for a brutal and bloodied 12 rounds with Horn scoring a unanimous- and popular home town points victory.

In boxing parlance Perth Racing will stage their own blockbuster with star gallopers Gatting and Variation to lock horns in the Listed Aquanita Stakes (2000m).

There is no world title belt up for grabs or a rich prize purse on offer, but the result will go a long way to deciding who is WA’s best three-year-old for the season.

Variation may just have his nose out in front after he became the first horse in WA history to win the Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m)-Listed Belmont Guineas (1600m) double.

The Stephen Miller-trained gelding, who has passed half a million dollars in prize money, also claimed a scalp in the Listed Raconteur Stakes (1500m).

Gatting, prepared by Darren McAuliffe, won the prized G2 WA Derby (2400m) in April and also took out the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m) in the lead up.

Variation and Gatting have faced off once previously in a race with bragging rights to the former, who scored in the recent Belmont Guineas.

But punters believe the much hyped rematch could swing in Gatting’s favour, he is the proven distance performer with the runs on the board.

Variation, who has missed a top three finish only once in 12 career starts, has the class, but confronts his first real serious test beyond a mile.

And it’s Variation’s distance query that instils added confidence in McAuliffe, he believes Gatting will ultimately prove to be the superior stayer.

“He is the proven stayer in the field,” McAuliffe told Tabradio.

“We are now playing in our back yard stretching out to 2000m.

“Once they start getting a stitch near the 400m that’s when his motor will kick in.

“I would be pretty surprised if he didn’t get the job done.”

Gatting, in the hands of Matthieu Autier, will start from barrier seven.  He is the Tab’s $2.40 favourite.

On the next line at $2.80 is Variation.  The son of War Chant has drawn awkwardly in barrier 11 for Brad Parnham.

Meanwhile McAuliffe is also upbeat about the prospects of Joyous Affair in the Listed Belmont Oaks (2000m).

McAuliffe says the Trade Fair filly, who is a $14 outsider, is over the odds after she ran a slashing fifth behind Jackpot Prince.

“It was a belter of a run when she got a little too far out of her ground,” McAuliffe said.

“Off the back of that she is a much better chance than her odds are indicating.

“I think she would get within three or four lengths of Gatting over this sort of trip.

“So it’s probably good enough to win the Oaks which is not overly strong.”

Julio Santarelli