Quality galloper Variation and top horseman Stephen Miller are out to claim a unique achievement when they combine in the Listed Belmont Guineas (1600m) on Saturday.
Variation, a son of War Chant, is looking to create his own slice of Western Australian racing history by becoming the first horse to win the WA Guineas-Belmont Guineas double.
Miller will attempt to claim his third success in the Belmont Guineas and first as a trainer after he won twice previously as a jockey with Perfect Answer (1989) and Final Impact (1993).
Variation cemented his reputation as one of WA’s best three-year-old’s in last November’s WA Guineas, ending his 2016 campaign on a stunning high when he outpointed Ellicazoom.
His autumn and winter campaign in 2017 has been equally as impressive, taking scalps in the Listed Raconteur Stakes (1500m) and Diggers Cup (1400m) in April before a freshen-up.
Miller is confident he has Variation in top order for his Belmont Guineas assignment after showing positive signs last-start in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) on June 3.
Up against older horses and in a quality weight-for-age line up, Variation attacked the line strongly to run a sound fifth to Rock Magic, beaten three lengths.
Miller said Variation had come through the run well.
“The best part of it was that he seemed to hit the line really well,” Miller said on Tabradio.
“And that probably toughened him up a bit against a quality horse.
“Hopefully dropping back to three-year-old company he can do his best.
“We are going in pretty fit and the horse seems spot on.
“The barrier is not the best, but he will acquit himself well.”
Variation, the TAB’s $2.05 favourite, has drawn awkwardly in barrier 12 for jockey, Brad Parnham.
Albany trainer Steve Wolfe will have a two-pronged attack in the Belmont Guineas, his hopes for a first victory rest with Minus Looks and rank outsider, One Short.
Minus Looks was an impressive winner two starts back and then couldn’t reel in promising colt Salorsci, finishing runner-up after crossing from a wide draw.
“It was a cracking run and he is in good order,” Wolfe said.
“Change the barrier and we may have changed the result.
“He drops 2 ½ kg and if he beats Variation he just about wins.
“I’m sure he will run a good race.”
One Short ran sixth behind Salorsci and has been unplaced in three starts since winning two races at Albany and Ascot in April.
Minus Looks, to be ridden by Peter Hall, will start from barrier seven. The TAB has him rated a $10 chance.
Shaun McGruddy retains the ride on One Short and jumps from barrier five. The Snippetson gelding is at $91.
Wolfe warns despite their market disparity, One Short can figure in the placings and should not be dismissed.
“There is only about a foot between them on their best days,” Wolfe said.
“I can assure people I’ve had a substantial bet and have advised the owners to do the same.
“He wasn’t suited on hard going last time and soft ground will suit.
“The horse will improve dramatically.
“I would be putting him into the novelties.”