Trainer Simon Miller is looking to make an impact with a couple of recent acquisitions to his stable when Zarantz and Shady Gray line-up at Ascot on Saturday.
Zarantz ramps up his Perth Cup campaign in the Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m) and Shady Gray resumes first up after a disappointing winter campaign.
Zarantz is aiming to score his first win for Miller after he won the Albany Cup (2100m) and Pinjarra Cup (2300m) double for Lindsey Smith earlier this year.
With three runs since a spell he is building to peak fitness and following a luckless seventh in the Tattersall’s Cup (2100m) he cannot be ignored.
“He is going really well and didn’t have much luck the other day when it was like a barrier trial,” Miller told Tabradio’s The Sports Daily.
“His previous runs were good and he is on track for the Perth Cup for sure and I think he is a really good chance.”
Zarantz will be in the hands of in-form jockey, Brad Parnham. In a field of 13 runners he starts from barrier four.
The TAB has rates him a $9 chance, one of five runners in single figures. Heading the market as a clear $3.10 favourite is Perfect Reflection.
Meanwhile Miller has a keen interest in the return of Shady Gray after the Vital Equine gelding escaped victory at Belmont Park during winter.
Shady Grady, previously under the care of David Caruana, changed stables after beating just one home in last June’s Belmont Guineas (1600m).
But the four-year-old, who holds an unbeaten record when first-up, will attract admirers after he won his trial well, bursting through late.
With Peter Knuckey as a partner Shady Gray lines up from barrier eight in the Addfuel FCC Fuel Conditioner (1200m) Handicap.
“I can make a push for him and his first-up record is really good.
“I really liked his trial and he pulled up really good.
“It’s not an overly strong race when you go back through his form lines.
“I’m still learning about him, but he is a great chance on Saturday.”
Shady Gray, a $4 hope and stable mate Red Paddy $5, give Miller a potent two-pronged attack in the race.
Tommy Who is the $3.10 favourite.
The Aquanita trainer also indicated a change of plans for stable star First Among Equals who could be kept to sprinting journeys in upcoming campaigns.
The gelding failed to land a killer blow during the Ascot Masters, but was desperately unlucky in most his races including the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).
The son of Exceed And Excel ended his calendar year in last Saturday’s A.J.Scahill Stakes (1400m) when he ran a slashing third behind Vega Magic.
“I just think 1400m isn’t his go,” Miller said.
“I think he is a dead set 1000 to 1200 metre and that’s when he is real effective.”
“He has pulled up good and we will aim him at the short-course next prep.
“He has had a luckless campaign, but still paid his way.”
RWWA: Julio Santarelli