Despite his last-start failure Ram Jam looks well placed to bounce back in Sunday’s $110,000 Listed Sassy Sue’s Boulder Cup (2100m) at Kalgoorlie.
Combined with champion jockey William Pike, a perfect draw in gate four and dropping to the 55kg limit, the son of Blackfriars will be hard to beat.
Ram Jam was on a hot winning streak but it came to a shuddering halt when he finished sixth of nine to Dubai Escapade (2200m) at Belmont on August 30.
It dented a flawless winter campaign with the four-year-old chasing six consecutive wins on the trot.
But a compelling alibi and one that trainer Darren McAuliffe is banking on was the slow surface that Ram Jam raced on.
“I just don’t think he handled the conditions of the day,” said McAuliffe.
“At one stage of the race he dipped which indicates he wasn’t comfortable on the surface.
“I had a chiropractor go over him to make sure there are no sore spots and he has given the all clear.
“He shows no signs of training off and is actually bouncing out of his skin.”
Ram Jam is undefeated in Kalgoorlie after commencing his campaign in June with back-to-back victories over 1200m and 1600m respectively.
“It was in the back of mind to start off in Kalgoorlie thinking that if he performed well he could be coming back for the feature races,” said McAuliffe.
“It also allowed me to see how he coped with the travelling and the conditions.
“He certainly appreciated racing on top of the ground.”
Ram Jam, who opened a $4.60 second favourite with Tabtouch, is one of six Perth raiders in the 11 horse Boulder Cup field.
Fred Kersley’s Operational is the 59kg top weight and third elect at $5.00.
Dan Morton’s Red Blast, who ran a slashing second to Ram Jam’s stable mate Express Service in the Coolgardie Cup (1760m), holds $3.50 favouritism.
McAuliffe rates noted frontrunner, Rive Gauche, prepared by Justin Warwick and to be ridden by his apprentice daughter, Lucy, as a danger.
“I worry about horses who are allowed to bowl along in front with little or no pressure,” said McAuliffe.
“Willie (Pike) will have to keep an eye on Rive Gauche and watch what he is doing throughout the race.”
Rive Gauche has found the money in seven of eight starts this campaign and is on the quick turnaround after running fourth to Gladstone (2200m) at Belmont on Saturday.
“He has become very consistent and whether he wins or runs placings they are all within a length of one another,” said Warwick.
“I don’t know whether he can win on Sunday but he is going to go there and be very competitive and set a genuine tempo.”
Rive Gauche is quoted an $8 chance.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli