Trainer Graeme Ballantyne believes Musket gelding Dark Musket is capable of ending a drought and winning today’s $120,000 Listed Pinjarra Cup (2300m).
Dark Musket hasn’t gone past the judge in first place for nearly two years, but Ballantyne took great heart from his previous run in the Bunbury Cup (2200m) two weeks ago.
Behind the winner Couleur Bizarre and the luckless runner-up, Cappo D’Oro, Dark Musket caught the eye with a slashing third, running the fastest final 600m.
The six-year-old was stranded near last and got held up behind a wall of horses at a vital stage in the straight before steaming home for third, beaten 1 ¾ lengths.
“He got held up when Colour Bizarre and Cappo D’Oro had the momentum,” Ballantyne said.
“I’m happy with the way he has come through the run and his work since has been really good.
“He has been tracking along nicely this preparation and I expect him to be in the mix and competitive.”
Dark Musket gains a 2kg and ½ kg turnaround on Couleur Bizarre and Cappo D’Oro respectively.
Shaun O’Donnell retains the ride on Dark Musket and is in search of his second Pinjarra Cup success after steering Moonlight Bay in 2013.
Dark Musket, drawn to jump from barrier three, has firmed from $10 to $7 with Tabtouch.
He sits behind Cappo D’Oro ($2.75), Dark Alert ($5.50) and Couleur Bizarre ($6).
Cappo D’Oro a deserving favourite after racing wide throughout in the Pinjarra Cup.
The Fred Kersley-trained galloper will meet Couleur Bizarre on 1.5kg better terms.
Ballantyne considers Couleur Bizarre, prepared by Christine Stelmach and the Alan Mathews-trained Rock Giselle, ninth in the Bunbury Cup, to be the biggest threats to Dark Musket.=
Stelmach’s husband and part-owner Jerry says Couleur Bizarre, who is having his 19th start this campaign, had recovered in fine order since the Bunbury Cup.