Stephen Miller is no stranger to Coolgardie Cup success. He has won it four times as a jockey and last year posted his first victory as a trainer with Fair Sonari.
Miller has the challenge of bucking history as only one other horse has won the Coolgardie Cup (1760m) in consecutive years, but it’s a task he is looking forward to.
Miller gives Fair Sonari a better than even shot of repeating last year’s victory and joining the Cliff Smith-trained Corporate James as successive Coolgardie Cup winners (1996-1997).
Miller’s confidence in Fair Sonari was boosted after he won the Goldfields Tattersall’s Club Cup (1612m), a race he won last year before the Coolgardie Cup.
Lumping 61.5kg for improving apprentice, Madi Derrick, Fair Sonari, first-up from a freshen-up, led from start to finish and defeated Sluice Box by a half-length.
Fair Sonari, undefeated in his three Kalgoorlie starts, carries 54kg in the Coolgardie Cup and jumps from barrier five. Derrick retains the mount, her biggest ride to date.
“I give him a real smoky chance, why not?” declared Miller to The Races WA.
“He loves the track, has never been beaten there and loves to travel.
“There aren’t too many other horses who are in a similar position.
“Maddi stays on and she goes real good and rode him well last-start.
“I give him a real chance and wouldn’t be dismissing him out of hand.”
Miller’s etched his name on the Coolgardie Cup honour roll when he rode Renella (1979). He followed up on Tavern Lad (1980), Signpost (1992) and Top Villain (1983).
Meanwhile Pushin’ Shapes and Superior Smile will give Dan and Ben Pearce hopes of a second Coolgardie Cup victory in three years.
Dan Pearce believes Pushin’ Shapes showed enough at his previous start to suggest he still maintained an appetite for racing.
The eight-year-old ran a solid fourth to the in-form Massimo at Belmont, boxing on to be 2 ½ lengths shy of the winner with 58kg.
Pushin’ Shapes’ drops to the 54kg in the Coolgardie Cup, the lowest weight he has carried in over three years.
“Pushin’ Shapes’ last run was solid I thought,” Dan Pearce told Tabradio.
“It showed he still had a bit of tick left in him.
“He won the race two years ago with 59kg.
“We’re happy with the way he is tracking.”
Joe Azzopardi keeps the ride on Pushin’ Shapes. The Viscount gelding has drawn barrier 10.
Pearce said Superior Smile can be ridden more positively from barrier four.
Top jockey Chris Parnham reunites with the six-year-old for the first time since a second in the Albany Cup (2100m) in February.