Some of the expected major players of the upcoming Perth Racing carnival launched their spring campaigns at Lark Hill trials on Tuesday.
Reigning Railway Stakes winner, Great Shot, led from go to whoa for the second time in 15 days, stopping the clock at a slick 55.86 seconds over 950m when defeating Stageman by a nose.
The Magnus six-year-old appears on track for another Group 1 tilt and trainer Rhys Radford confirmed that the gelding will resume in the $100,000 Listed Birthday Stakes (1200m) at Belmont on October 6.
Boom mare Enticing Star, who is yet to taste race defeat from seven starts, rattled home from last position under little pressure by rider William Pike to finish third, beaten a length-and-a-quarter.
Owner-breeder Bob Peters said the Testa Rossa five-year-old will be the first of his carnival arsenal to be unleashed and will also tackle next Saturday’s Birthday Stakes.
The rest of the beaten brigade included the Group 1-placed Achernar Star, WA Guineas winner, Perfect Jewel, multiple stakes-winning mare, Celebrity Dream, progressive five-year-old, Prize Catch and Perth Stakes winner, Chix Pic.
Trainer Lindsey Smith reported that Prize Catch, a Belmont winner at his past two starts in August, will resume in a 1400m 78+ event at Bunbury on October 13 before his grand finale, the $125,000 Listed Northam Cup (1600m), on October 28.
“He’s got one goal in mind,” Smith said.
“He’ll go to the Northam Cup.”
Smith also revealed a return is near for his Group 1-winning gelding, Scales Of Justice, who is making a comeback from a near career-ending back injury.
“He’ll be here (Lark Hill trials) in either two weeks or three weeks,” he said.
“If his fitness is okay he’ll head towards the Railway and, if it’s not and I’m a bit behind the eight-ball, he’ll be in the AJ Scahill Stakes.”
The $1,000,000 Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) will be ran at Ascot on November 24, with the $250,000 Group 3 AJ Scahill Stakes (1400m) three weeks later.
Meanwhile, exciting stayer Galaxy Star, a dominant winner at eight of her 10 races to date, made an impressive return with a fast-finishing win over last season’s WA champion two-year-old, Valour Road.
A winner of the Magic Millions WA 2YO Classic-Karrakatta Plate double, Valour Road led the seven-horse field and boxed on strongly to finish a narrow second, with stablemate Lady Cosmology a further length-and-three-quarters away in fifth place.
Trainer Simon Miller was very pleased with the Frost Giant gelding and confirmed a start in the $100,000 TABtouch 3YO Classic (1000m) at Bunbury on October 13.
“He’s rocking along,” Miller said.
“I didn’t know whether to go to that three-year-old 1000 at Bunbury or another trial and then the Placid Ark (1200m), but he was that nippy today he can head to Bunbury.
“Lady Cosmology’s definitely going to the 1000 and she’s on a Champion Fillies (1600m) campaign.
“Her trial was really good and Jarrad just said he looked after her late, just with that inside being that little bit wet, so he didn’t want to punish her.”
The Adam Durrant-trained Sweet Ora finished behind Valour Road in third place while Group 2 WATC Derby winner, Action, caught the eye a further half-length away in fourth.
Miller also looks set to play a big part in next Saturday’s first two-year-old race of the season, the $70,000 Initial Plate (1000m), after preparing the quinella of the 950m juvenile trial.
Niccovi (Nicconi x Fully Chargeable), a $200,000 purchase by Miller at this year’s Perth Magic Millions Yearling Sale, ran the third-fastest time of the morning (55.92sec) to beat stablemate, Marcee A Lady, by a length.
“She’s a speedy little filly who can rock along,” Miller said.
“The time was really quick.
“She got lost a little bit, I think probably because they just went too quick, and then crunched into gear and it ended up being a pretty easy trial win without being asked for an effort which sounds funny when you consider how quick they ran.”
Miller’s duo finished in the reverse order in their 400m trial at Lark Hill on September 9 when Marcee A Lady got the better of Niccovi by a half-head.
Marcee A Lady, an Amelia Park-bred and owned filly, is by first season sire Safeguard.
“She’s very good,” Miller said.
“She’s a half to Lady Cosmology and she’s a genuine Saturday horse.
“She trialled up good as well.”
Miller’s talented three-year-old, Special Reward, presented in great order before scoring a soft win without wearing blinkers later in the day.
“He’ll go to Bunbury as well,” Miller said.
“I’ll put him against the older horses that day.
“He can go to a 1200 and use that as a stepping stone to the Placid Ark (1200m), then naturally onto the Fairetha (1400m) and the Guineas (1600m).”
Other notable performances from the day included that of Reset four-year-old, M’Lady, who made her trial debut with a stylish three-length win in the fastest heat of the morning (55.38 seconds).
Progressive type Missile Launch, a winner at six of 10 starts, also caught the eye when cruising to the line to finish a head second to Ragazzo D’Oro, with Peters’ Perth Cup hopefuls, Royal Star and Star Exhibit, finishing in third and sixth position respectively.
Trainer Vaughn Sigley revealed Railway Stakes plans are on the cards for Missile Launch if he returns to racing as well as he expects in the coming weeks.