Steven Parnham has opted to forgo a Group 2 opportunity in Melbourne to remain focused on Perth’s Ascot meeting this Saturday.

With Parnham electing to stay at home, Declan Bates is the new rider for Zipaway in the Alister Clarke Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley.

Zipaway will have someone new on his back for the first time with Parnham his constant companion in races since his debut a year ago.

Parnham rode Zipaway when third in the Autumn Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and 12th in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 2.

The decision wasn’t easy according to Parnham.

“It’s a hard one because normally I would give anything to go over and ride a horse in Melbourne,” Parnham told The Races WA.

“You wish you could do both, but you can’t and both times I’ve been to Melbourne I’ve missed winners.

“I know Zipaway didn’t have a lot of luck in the Guineas, but if he had run right in the top end I probably would have gone back again.

“I love riding in the big races in Melbourne, love the challenge, but one that I had to pass up this time.”

Parnham and Zipaway could be reunited in Perth soon if the son of Playing God runs a bolter in the Alister Clark on the weekend.

“If he runs really well there’s the option of bringing him back home for the WA Derby (2400m),” Parnham said.

“If he doesn’t he will go to the paddock.

“It’s a pretty critical run for him going forward,”

The Group 2 WA Derby will be run at Ascot on April 13.

A key reason for Parnham staying home is his booking on talented two-year-old Earthstorm in the Listed Supremacy Stakes (1000m).

Parnham rode Earthstorm at her only start in February when she closed fast from the back of the field to finish one length third to Golden Vale over 1000m.

“I’m really happy with the way she’s come back from that short little break,” Parnham said.

“I think she’s quite a nice filly, but do feel she’ll be a better horse when she gets out further.

“I still think 12 and 1400 hundred are going to be a better distance for her, but she’s strong and really well.

“It’s not her grand final, but I want to get an indication that she’s on the right track heading to a Karrakatta and Sires.”

Earth Storm is $9 in Karrakatta Plate betting, behind Bustling at $7. Perth’s richest juvenile race is run at Ascot on April 20.

Parnham’s bid to win the second leg of a feature double with Aztec Ruler in the Listed Grandstand Cup (1500m) on Saturday has been dealt a blow.

A brilliant winner of the Bunbury Stakes two weeks ago, Aztec Ruler has been ruled out with foot bruising.

Trainer Stefan Vahala said he hopes Aztec Ruler is back for the $200,000 Joey (1400m) at Ascot on April 20.

Julio Santarelli