Justin Warwick arguably has the best opportunity of securing his first Pinjarra Cup when he saddles up short-priced favourite, Material Man, in the $120,000 Listed feature on Sunday.
The Myalup horseman has gone close to winning previously when Global Flirt and (2015) and Rosie Rocket (2012) ran third placings respectively, but Material Man is poised to break the deadlock.
The Vital Equine gelding is racing in a rich vein of form and confirmed he was a star on the rise with an outstanding front-running victory in the Listed Bunbury Cup (2200m) on March 23.
Handing his opposition a big defeat, Material Man claimed his third straight win this campaign and boosted hopes of being a major player in major races at Ascot later this year.
Material Man has improved his imposing record to nine wins and three placings from 13 starts with stake earnings approaching nearly $350,000.
A key component to Material Man’s success has been gun young jockey, Chris Parnham, who has partnered the five-year-old to his past two wins.
Parnham, who produced a brilliant tactical ride on Material Man in the Bunbury Cup, issued an ominous warning to his rivals.
“I find it hard to see how he is going to get beaten,” Parnham said on Tabradio’s The Sports Daily.
Material Man is the dominant $1.60 favourite with Tabtouch. He heads the market ahead of Zarantz, who won last year’s Pinjarra Cup for trainer Lindsey Smith.
Now prepared by Grant and Alana Williams, Zarantz ran 2 ¼ lengths second to Material Man in the Bunbury Cup, but meets him 1 ½ kg better at the weights.
Zarantz, a son of Choisir, is looking to become the first horse since Beau Heed (1996-1995) to win the Pinjarra Cup in successive years.
If he can turn the tables on Material Man he will hand Grant Williams with his fourth success in the race and first with partner and co-trainer, Alana Williams.
The Karnup horseman won a hat trick of Pinjarra Cups with Moonlight Bay (2013), Lords Ransom (2012) and Battle Emblem (2011).
At $5.50 Dark Alert, in the hands of Geoff Durrant and Jason Miller, is the only other runner under double figure odds.
The gelding pushed his claims after he ran on strongly behind Material Man in the Prince Of Wales Hotel Cup (2019m) in Bunbury.
He ran a sound third, but was then left flat-footed and only finished fairly when 7th in the Bunbury Cup, beaten 5 ¾ lengths.
Dark Alert, who has won up to 2400m, will be ridden by William Pike.
The Sharon Miller-trained, Shinta Mani, a winner over 2200m at Ascot two starts back, is rated a $21 chance to turn the tables on Material Man.
The Viscount mare ran sixth in the Bunbury Cup, but according to part-owner Brett Nazzari, she endured a difficult run.
“She got galloped on and didn’t enjoy being on the fence,” Nazzari said.
“She is s horse that needs to get rolling and have momentum.
“She will get that from her barrier and a small field.
“But Material Man looks awfully hard to beat.”
Shinta Mani has drawn barrier seven. Regular rider Jason Whiting takes the mount.
RWWA: Julio Santarelli