Gangbuster’s WA Derby campaign steps up another gear in the $100,000 Listed Lex Piper Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on Saturday.
The promising Blackfriars gelding is on the quick back up after running a slashing third in last weeks Listed Challenge Stakes (1500m).
On a day that favoured on pace runners Gangbuster stormed home from near last to finish a short-neck from Precious Memories.
Trainer Trevor Andrews, chasing his third win in the race, said Gangbuster only needs to repeat the run and he will be a threat.
“His run last week in the Challenge was very good,” Andrews told TABradio’s The Sports Daily.
“He ran the best sectionals in the race against an on pace bias.
“He is progressing well and this looks like a nice race on paper.
“The important thing with this horse is that he relaxes really well.
“He settled really well last week and hit the line really good.
“If he does the same again I’m sure he will be hitting the line good.”
Gangbuster has drawn barrier three in a field of nine. Jarrad Noske retains the mount.
The Blackfriars gelding holds TAB favouritism at $2.70.
Andrews won previously with Veracious (2011) and Heroicity (1991) when the race was named the T.J. Smith Trophy.
Earlier on the card Andrews will unveil Expressella for her debut in the Penang Turf Club Trophy (1100m).
The Danehill Express filly has not gone unnoticed after blitzing her trial by over five lengths on February 14.
“I was more shocked than anybody by her trial,” Andrews said.
“A couple of trials before that was just average.
“But I put the blinkers on her and she has grown a leg.
“Willie Pike galloped her on the grass at Ascot on Tuesday and her work was very sharp.
“I think the blinkers have certainly switched her on.
“But she will need a fair bit of luck from the draw.
“She has the ability, but will need luck from the gate.”
Expressella will jump from barrier eight of 10.
She is currently quoted at $4.80. Riask ($3.80), Golden Trigger ($3.90) and You I Am ($3.90) are battling it out for market honours.
Meanwhile Andrews says if consistent gelding Outlaw Pete can get good tempo he is not without claims in the Listed Detonator Stakes (1800m).
RWWA: Julio Santarelli