Trainer Adam Durrant believes Stageman can uphold state pride and repel the threat from interstate raider Trekking in the Group 1 Crown Perth Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.
With two Group 1 victories to his name and coming out of top Melbourne and Sydney spring form, Trekking is a hot favourite to give trainer James Cummings and his Godolphin team their first taste of success in Perth’s premier sprint.
Stageman is Durrant’s sole runner in the Winterbottom Stakes, but he believes the son of Written Tycoon, is the right one.
“I think we have the locals covered if we do everything right,” Durrant told Tabradio.
“Obviously, the main stumbling block is the Godolphin horse who is high class.
“They don’t win five million if they are battlers.
“But I wouldn’t swap him (Stageman) for any other horse, including the favourite.”
After he won first up over 1200m in the Black Heart Bart Stakes, Stageman’s barrier manners have been a concern in follow up races.
His winning chances in the Crawford Stakes (1000m), Prince Of Wales Stakes (1000m) and Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m) were influenced by slow starts.
But after some remedial work, Durrant is confident Stageman will be on his best behavior in the Winterbottom Stakes.
“We will go back to the same type of pattern we did before that first run at 1200m,” Durrant said.
“There are a few little things we can fiddle around with to have him a bit more attentive and he’ll be standing at attention at the gates ready to go.
“We haven’t being doing a lot of the schooling and arena work with him in the past six weeks since his first up win.
“We have sort of gone back to that a little bit and you see that little bit of twinkle in his eye again.
“I think he was getting a little bit cunning and a little bit comfortable with the whole racing situation.
“We’ve changed things up, but we are happy with him and he is going along nicely.”
Stageman is a winner of eight races and oozes talent, but his get back pattern of racing can test the nerves of punters.
If not for bad luck in last year’s Winterbottom Stakes when held up for running, he could have finished much closer than ninth to Hey Doc.
Durrant says Stageman only needs a modicum of good fortune and he will be fighting out the finish in this year’s race.
“He is the type of horse that has a few tricks,” Durrant said.
“That’s just him and he will get back.
“He just needs luck at the right time.
“His last 400 and 200 is probably better than anything in the race when things go his way.
“You just have to be hopeful and we are happy with his condition.
“His lead up races have been good and we’ve been happy with the way he’s been training.”
Stageman has barrier nine in the Winterbottom Stakes. Rated a $9 chance with Tabtouch, he will be ridden by Pat Carbery.
Trekking is on his outside in barrier 11. William Pike takes the ride on the $2.30 favourite.