Any notion that rain affected ground will halt the winning momentum of revived gelding Western Empire in Saturday’s Group 3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) at Belmont has been hosed down by trainer, Grant Williams.

Western Empire was trained by Danny O’Brien in Melbourne when unsuccessful on soft tracks two years ago, finishing fifth in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield and Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.

“We haven’t had too many that can’t perform on it,” Williams said on Tabradio.

“We haven’t had him in that ground, that was when he was in Melbourne and obviously it was clear he wasn’t at his best over there.

“There could have been other reasons why he didn’t perform on those grounds, one of those was in the Makybe Diva against pretty tough opposition and he only got beaten six lengths.

“We’re not going into it thinking we’re going to struggle in the ground, I think like many we have got fit horses that don’t seem to worry too much about it.

“I don’t think it will be too much of a drama for him.”

Western Empire won the 2021 Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) for Williams and hasn’t missed a beat since re-entering his stables after an unsuccessful stint in Melbourne.

Since his return the six-year-old has found a new lease of life by winning consecutive Group 3 races: the Northam Stakes (1300m) and Belmont Sprint (1400m).

The Tabtouch market hasn’t reacted to Western Empire’s performances on rain affected ground. The son of Iffraaj remains the raging $1.85 favourite for the Hyperion Stakes.

Searchin’ Roc’s, a close second to Western Empire in the Belmont Sprint, is next at $9.

Jockey William Pike will steer Western Empire from barrier seven.

Williams, who co-trains with partner, Alana, saddles up Western Empire alongside Triple Missile and Casino Seventeen.

A dual winner in Melbourne under Lindsey Smith, Triple Missile ran on for seventh in last fortnight’s Belmont Sprint.

Williams believes the gelding will benefit in stepping up in distance.

“I thought from the time we got him that he would be better suited over these trips than the sprint journeys,” Williams said.

“He races like he can get over the mile really good and the main thing with him is if he gets a trouble free run and we can get him to the outside to show his true ability.”

Williams says Casino Seventeen will relish carrying 59kg after lumping 62kg at his past four starts.

Triple Missile, rated $20 by Tabtouch, has drawn barrier 10 for Clint Johnston-Porter.

Casino Seventeen will jump from barrier six. Currently rated $17, Joe Azzopardi has the mount.

Meanwhile, Williams believes two-year-old filly Storyville can make it two in a line and remain undefeated in the Amelia Park Plate (1200m).

Belmont Park is currently rated a Soft 7 for Saturday’s meeting.

Julio Santarelli