Trainer Simon Miller looks well poised to win a third Karrakatta Plate in four years, as Rio Del Mar broke through for her first win in this afternoon’s Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes (1100m) at Ascot.
Rio Del Mar spearheaded a treble for Miller on the day, which also included a win to Achernar Star in the Listed Grandstand Cup.
After an encouraging performance on debut in the Supremacy Stakes a fortnight ago, Rio Del Mar outmuscled her rivals to the line in a tight finish today.
The filly was aided by a terrific ride from jockey Chris Parnham, who was able to land better than midfield just off the speed.
Specialism set the tempo in the $150,000 event, but rolled off the fence at the top of the straight, which allowed Rio Del Mar to work her way into the clear.
As was the case in the Supremacy Stakes, Prim And Proper was the main danger to Rio Del Mar, but the Miller-trained filly was able to turn the tables today.
Prim And Proper did her Karrakatta Plate aspirations no harm, as did Miss West Coast in third.
Miller’s other two fillies in the race Amelia’s On Fire and Niccovi finished fourth and sixth.
Miller was full of praise for Parnham’s ride post-race and was looking forward to the Karrakatta with all three fillies in two weeks.
“It was unbelievable where he slotted in,” he said.
“I had him pegged three-wide and he was on the back of Amelia’s, so he lobbed on the back of the right one.
“We think highly of her, so we weren’t afraid to go straight into a Stakes race with her and she did us proud.
“Amelia’s On Fire, I thought she was a good run…she will strip fitter.
“Niccovi was outstanding out the back…if we draw wide in the Karrakatta, we won’t be afraid to go back.”
The day got better for Miller after Achernar Star’s win, in what jockey Shaun Mc Gruddy described as a career best performance.
Achernar Star looked in a world of trouble 200m from home as Mc Gruddy tried to work off the heels of leaders Pushin’ Shapes and Abdicator.
Under the top weight of 60.5kg, Achernar Star found plenty in the closing stages to record a ½ length win to Variation.
Miller echoed the sentiments of Mc Gruddy and was left in awe of his star galloper.
“I can’t believe he picked up with that weight,” he said.
“He’s just a class horse.
“He picked up where he probably shouldn’t have and that speaks volumes of where he’s at.”
“He ran in the first two-year-old race and won, that’s longevity.
Talented filly Deacalda got Miller’s day off to a winning start, as she recorded a strong win in the Big Mac Handicap (1000m).
Deacalda has been reduced to just three starts in her career so far and has saluted in two of them.
Mc Gruddy settled Deacalda on the back of race favourite Excise Free, who set a solid tempo.
The Sizzling filly wore down the favourite to score a 3/4 length win.
Miller said he was happy to see the filly performing well following a chequered start to her career.
“She’s going places,” Miller said.
“She put her leg in a fence not long after the yearling sales and I laid down in a foetal position for about a month.
“She damaged her suspensory in doing that, so we just gave her 12 months off and started again.
“She will come on both physically and mentally from this run and we will go again.”