Trainer Paul Rowe says there’s more than just bragging rights that’s up for grabs when Californication faces off against 15 rivals in the Sky Racing TV Provincial Championship Series Final (1400m) at Belmont on Saturday.

A stylish first-up winner in last fortnight’s qualifier at home in Kalgoorlie and backed strongly in early betting, Rowe hopes a second straight victory for Californication can help lay the platform for ambitious races later this year.

“I quite like him and I’m still working out how far he might be able to go ability wise,” Rowe said to the Races WA.

“Saturday is certainly going to tell us and if he gets a nice trouble free run and finishes off as he should we’ll get a bit more of an idea on where we are at.

“If he happens to come out and win nicely he’ll probably stay in Perth and I’ll leave him with someone.

“If that’s the way we go he’ll stay with someone in Perth and finish this prep off and we’ll see how he develops.

“Then after a short spell we could bring him back for the Hannans or he stays in Perth and has a crack at the better races.”

Californication, with four wins to his name, has not finished further back than fourth in nine starts to date.

He added to that tally last-start with a powerful finishing burst from midfield to get the better of the fast-finishing Abloh by one length.

Coming off a 218-day spell with no trial, Rowe was suitably impressed with the effort.

“He just keeps on doing it,” Rowe said.

“I was confident first up.

“His work had been really good and we thought he could get the money.”

Californication will jump from barrier five in the final with Pat Carbery retaining the ride.

“I was rapt when I saw the barrier we got,” Rowe said.

“We couldn’t have drawn better.

“From there and the way he’s going it should give him every hope to run a good race.”

A small margin separated Californication and Abloh when they previously met and there is little between them in betting.

Tabtouch opened Californication at $6 and after easing to $6.50 punters were happy to snap up the price, backing him into $4.60 and second favourite behind Abloh.

Abloh, from the powerful Peter Fernie stable, has also met support, firming from $4.60 to $4.

Blue Lagoon at $5 and Fortune’s Luck $9.50 are currently the only other runners under double figure odds.


Julio Santarelli