Trainer Simon Miller has never tasted success in the Listed Belmont Guineas (1600m), but he gets a wonderful opportunity to breakthrough on Saturday.
The Ascot-based horseman will have a double hand in the $100,000 feature, but it’s gun filly Flirtini who is drawing the most attention from punters.
The daughter of Artie Schiller heads TAB markets at $3.10, firming from her opening price of $4.00. She holds favoritism over Mystery Miss ($3.40).
Flirtini has earned top billing after an almost flawless winter campaign where she has won two races and been placed second from her three starts.
The three-year-old has carried over her form from last year when she came close to snatching her first black type victory against elite opposition.
She ran placings in the Belgravia Stakes (1200m), the Burgess Queen Stakes (1400m) and WA Guineas (1600m) behind boom filly, Arcadia Queen.
Miller has been impressed by Flirtini’s build-up to the Belmont Guineas.
“She has had the perfect lead-up and has had a faultless prep,” Miller told Tabradio.
“She is definitely the one to beat.”
Flirtini has drawn perfectly in barrier six of 13. In a big show of faith and confidence, apprentice, Chloe Azzopardi, retains the ride.
“Chloe has done an amazing job on her and ridden her well this prep, so she deserved her chance,” Miller said.
“From that gate she should be afforded the opportunity of putting her in a beautiful position and hopefully strike on straightening.”
While Flirtini holds the aces for Miller, he doesn’t discount Flower Of War causing a surprise.
The War Chant filly suffered her sole loss last-start when second to True Attraction, beaten 1 ½ lengths, after leading.
“Gee, I’ve been impressed how much she has come along this time in,” Miller said.
“I think she has made the most improvement since their last runs.
“She needed to because Flirtini has been there and done it.
“Flower of War will give a great sight for the punters.”
Ben Paterson continues his association with Flower Of War and jumps from barrier five.
Flower of War is rated a $14 chance.
Miller also has the favourite in the Listed Bolton Sprint (1200m), with Valour Road, coming off an Adelaide campaign, the $1.95 market leader.
The three-year-old was a star in South Australia when he won the Group 2 Euclase (1200m) at Morphettville last May.
He showed he was on track for the Bolton with a solid trial hit-out, finding the line strongly for second under a good hold.
Valour Road is on the 54kg minimum and starts from barrier five. William Pike takes his first ride on the son of Frost Giant.
“He is the best horse in the race and is weighted to win,” Miller said.
“He has ticked every box and I have been mindful of an eastern states campaign.
“But we can fault him.”
Miller will also saddle up Market Ruler in the Bolton, a $5.50 chance.
“We know she loves the wet and loves Belmont,” Miller said.
“The disadvantage is she is paying the price for being consistent through the weights.
“She has to give Valour Road 4kg’s.”