Stephen Miller is hopeful his gun galloper Variation can halt the dominance of Bob Peters in the $150,000 Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on Saturday.
With seven winners from the opening two meetings of the Ascot season, Perth’s leading owner-breeder has been an unstoppable force in the past fortnight.
Peters looks well placed to make an impact for the third consecutive week with Cosmic Storm and Royal Star looming as top chances in the Asian Beau Stakes.
Cosmic Storm, with the services of champion jockey, William Pike, races second up after a luckless fourth in the Group 3 Northerly Stakes (1400m) two weeks back.
Royal Star, a winner of the Listed Natasha Stakes (2200m) in April, should be improved after defeating War Jeune when resuming at Bunbury on October 14.
Variation emerged as Perth’s best three-year-old last season when he won the Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m) and the Listed Raconteur Stakes (1500m) at Ascot.
The War Chant gelding campaigned in the winter and dominated when he took out a Listed double in the Belmont Guineas (1600m) and Strickland Stakes (2000m).
On a path towards a Group 1 double, Variation continued to display promising signs with a top third to Miki Two Toes when first-up at Bunbury a fortnight back.
The four-year-old, entered for the Railway Stakes (1600m) and Kingston Town Classic (1800m), raced on speed before peaking on his run 50m out.
Miller said the Asian Beau Stakes, a race he won twice as a jockey when he partnered Old Fashion (2001) and Questilla (1983), will be a good test for Variation.
“He has probably gone on with it a little bit since his first run,” Miller said on Tabradio.
“He looks a lot better since then and hopefully he can get up to the next class.
“He is pretty much prepared for the race and it’s now up to him.
“Whether he is up to the class is another thing and we are going to find out a bit more on Saturday.
“But he is ticking along nicely.”
Variation, a winner of seven races, has only missed a top four finish once in 14 career starts. In a 10-horse line-up he has drawn barrier three and will be ridden by Brad Parnham.
Miller says the biggest threat to Variation is from Bob Peters’ two entrants.
“Cosmic Storm was a good run the other day and Bob’s horses are always very hard to beat and have been set for these races,” Miller said.
The TAB has installed Cosmic Storm the $2.70 favourite. Tradesman and Whispering Brook are at $5.
Variation is rated a $5.50 chance with Royal Star the only other runner under double figure odds ($6.50).
RWWA: Julio Santarelli