Trainer David Harrison hopes a change of plans will pay off in rich style and be handsomely rewarded for Gemma’s Son at Ascot on Saturday.
Gemma’s Son was being touted as a possible Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) horse at the beginning of his preparation, but could end it as a weight for age champion in the $1 million Group 1 Peoplestart Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
Gemma’s Son held impressive form over sprinting trips as a juvenile, winning his opening four races before suffering his first defeat as favourite in the Group 2 Karrakatta Plate (1200m) in April.
He then launched his three-year-old season in top style with a sizzling all the way victory over 1000m in September, but after compounding to the pressure of boom filly Clairvoyance in the 3YO Classic (1000m) and following up with a fading fourth in the Belgravia Stakes (1200m), Harrison opted to change course.
The Kingston Town Classic, Australia’s final Group 1 race of the calendar year, became a reality for Harrison after Gemma’s Son answered a distance query and a change of racing pattern in two key lead-up races.
Allowed to settle off speed, the noted on-pace runner ran to the line strongly when contesting the Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) and WA Guineas (1600m) respectively, his first attempts beyond 1200 metres.
Gemma’s Son carries 52kg in the Kingston Town Classic and will be ridden by Jason Whiting. The Snippetson colt’s hopes were given a further boost after drawing barrier three.
Harrison, a winner of the Kingston Town Classic in 2002 with Blevvo, said there are three key reasons why he thinks he made the right call to target the Group 1 feature.
“With his weight, barrier and the record of three-year-old’s in the race, I’m certain he will be competitive,” Harrison told The Races WA.
“The last two furlongs of his previous two races have been his strongest this preparation.
“I have no doubt he will run out a strong 1800m metres now that he can settle in his races.
“From the barrier he can get a soft run.
“I decided to go the Kingston Town path after the Belgravia Stakes.
“He was just becoming a chopping block out in front in earlier races.”
Gemma’s Son is $23 with Tabtouch, the market headed by Railway Stakes hero, Inspirational Girl at $2.35.
Dom To Shoot is $7.50, Too Close The Sun $8.50 and Watch Me Dance $10.
Harrison says rival three-year-old’s Dom To Shoot and Watch Me Dance are the biggest threats to Gemma’s Son.
“Dom To Shoot was a great run in the Guineas and is going well,” Harrison said.
“Watch Me Dance has done nothing wrong by winning the Champion Filles and WA Guineas.
“You have to respect the form of three-year-old’s in the race.
“I believe they come into it with big claims and they have drawn perfectly.”