Young trainer Rhys Radford is living a dream when he saddles up exciting four-year-old, Great Shot, in the Northerly Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on Saturday.
The $150,000 Group 3 feature is not only the biggest race Radford has been involved in, but it also places him against the top bracket of Western Australian trainers.
Fred Kersley, Dan Morton, Simon Miller, Paula Wagg, Justin Warwick and co-trainers Grant and Alana Williams and Jason Miller and Geoff Durrant form potent opposition.
For as long as Radford can remember he has always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and former horseman, Warren Radford, and train horses.
The 25-year-old got a taste of big time racing in the winter when Great Shot won three of four races at Belmont Park, the Listed Belmont Guineas (1600m) a career highlight.
The dominant five length victory again underlined his promise and has him on course for a tilt at the upcoming Railway Stakes-Kingston Town double.
He commenced that chase for Group One honours in last Saturday week’s Birthday Stakes (1400m) at Belmont and lost no admirers with a bold second.
Ridden by regular jockey, Craig Staples, he led for a major share of the race before being cut down late by Lite’n In My Veins, beaten 3/4 of a length.
Radford said Great Shot, who has yet to finish outside of the first three placings in eight career starts, had come on strongly since his return run.
“I was really pleased with his first up run and he will improve on that,” Radford said.
“He was beaten by a better horse on a day that didn’t really favour the leaders.
“He is going really well at the moment and the ball is in his court.”
Great Shot has to the overcome the extreme outside gate in the Northerly Stakes. The field of 11 is laden with quality, headed by the return of gun mare, Perfect Reflection and her outstanding stable mate, Disposition.
Radford conceded Great Shot’s wide draw is a concern, but said he will pin his faith and leave it up to experienced jockey, Craig Staples, to find the right run from barrier 11.
“I won’t be giving Craig any instructions, but ideally he can take a sit,” Radford said.
“The draw doesn’t really help, but that’s racing and you live with what you have.
“It’s a cracking line up and I think he will run well.”
RWWA: Julio Santarelli