Vital Silver has not won a race in over a year, but co-trainer Dan Pearce is confident that trend can end in Saturday’s Group 1 Crown Perth Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot.

Vital Silver ran second to Hey Doc in last year’s Winterbottom Stakes, his second consecutive Group 1 placing after the Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley a month earlier.

The seven-year-old gelding is $21 with Tabtouch and seemingly the forgotten horse in the Winterbottom Stakes; Trekking hogging the attention of punters as the $2.30 favourite.

Despite his outsider status, Pearce says he has certainly not lost any faith in Vital Silver.

“Look, he is a Group 1 performer and run seconds in two Group Ones,” Pearce told The Races WA.

“He has shown he is up to the grade and he has certainly earned his spot.”

Pearce and his brother Ben, who shares the training duties, have adopted a similar path to last year’s Winterbottom Stakes with Vital Silver.

First-up in the Jolly Beggar Stakes he ran a close third to Money Matters lumping 62kg.

He then battled away for fifth to Stageman in the Black Heart Bart Stakes (1200m).

A noted fresh horse, he has not raced since the Northerly Stakes over 1400m on October 17.

“We’ve done a similar preparation with him to last year,” Pearce said.

“He’s had a similar time between runs.

“When he came back from Melbourne last year, we freshened him and he performed really well in the Winterbottom.

“So, we have followed a similar path and hopefully we can go one better than last year.

“His work has been great and we gave him a good solid gallop last week.

“He’s had a nice freshen up at the beach this week and we couldn’t be happier with him.”

Vital Silver, a winner of eight races from 22 starts, has drawn barrier eight. Joe Azzopardi retains the ride.

Pearce said starting from the middle of the 16-horse field, was ideal for Vital Silver.

“We’re happy with barrier eight,” Pearce said.

“He’s a horse that needs to be free flowing.

“If he’s got clean air and can free flow is when he’s at his best.”

Stable mate Essential Spice will give the Pearce team a double shot at the Winterbottom Stakes.

The gutsy mare ran three top races in the Crawford Stakes (1000m), Prince Of Wales Stakes (1000m) and Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m), flashing home late, but faces a weight for age and distance query.

To be ridden by Lucy Warwick from gate 14, the five-year-old mare has not won beyond 1000 metres.

At $41 she is one of the outsiders in the field.


Julio Santarelli