Trainer Neville Parnham believes Bass Strait will be the big improver and cautions supporters not to dismiss the gelding’s claims in the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on Saturday.
The former Melbourne galloper, on a path towards the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) in November, ran eighth when resuming in the Northerly Stakes (1420m) last fortnight, but Parnham says the conditions of the race didn’t suit.
“On face value it looks like he was disappointing, but he drew awkwardly with the rail out considerably and that made it difficult to come from off the speed where he was,” said Parnham on TABradio.
“His fitness levels have risen quite considerably and minus horses like Black Heart Bart and Wink And A Nod, I certainly feel he comes into the race from a good gate and a run under his belt with good claims.
“The 1400 metres will be right up his alley and I think the horse, who has shown his class in the past, is going better this time around than he was last year and it’s only a matter of time before he strikes his best form.
“He will be a marked improver on Saturday.”
Bass Straight, previously trained in Melbourne by David Hayes and Tom Dabernig, won the Group 3 R.J.Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot last year and ran third to Elite Belle in the Group 2 C.B.Cox Stakes (2100m).
Bass Strait and stable mate Royal Rada, ninth of 10 in the Northerly Stakes, are the TAB’s rank outsiders at $31 and $81 respectively.
Punters hold stronger faith with Parnham’s Street Bandit who is currently rated a $2.70 favourite to bounce back in the Hosemasters/Alfagomma Handicap (2150m).
The son of Street Boss was denied a winning hat trick against Illuminated (1800m) last week, beaten 2 ½ lengths seventh, after an interrupted run in the straight.
“I think he should have won the race,” said Parnham.
“I thought he was extremely unlucky.
“Stepping back to the 2100m he will be hard to beat.”
Street Bandit carries 57kg with the claim of Jake Casey. In a field of seven rivals he will start from barrier one.
The once perennial placegetter, who took 38 starts to shed his maiden status, has won four out of his past eight starts.
Parnham says he expects exciting sprinter Malibu Style to figure prominently when he returns against a crack line up in the Seacorp Handicap (1000m).
The son of Magnus hasn’t missed the money in three first up attempts and looks primed after winning a 1000m trial by three lengths on Monday.
“He is terrific and you couldn’t ask him to trial any better,” said Parnham.
“He is quite a talented horse who had a lot of feet issues last campaign.
“If he can hold up he is destined to get to open company.
“He has the class, is well weighted, has the barrier to duck in and will be right in the finish.”
Malibu Style, a $3.40 second favourite, has drawn barrier four for Steven Parnham.
Heading the market at $2.20 is Silverstream. The Grant Williams-trained four-year-old is unbeaten in two starts this campaign.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli