Chris Willis is not shying away from one of the biggest challenges in WA racing, upsetting the might of Bob Peters’ powerful ‘cerise and white’ army in the WA Oaks (2400m) on Saturday.
Peters, Perth’s leading owner-breeder, has had a stranglehold on the WA Oaks in recent times, winning the race on a remarkable nine occasions including the past four years.
Peters incredible dominance commenced with Natasha (1990) and has continued after wins to Reflected Image (1999), Old Money (2000), Fatal Attraction (2004), Dreamaway (2011), Delicacy (2015), First Impressions (2016), Very Tempting (2017) and Special Alert (2081).
If the market is any guide then Peters is on track to record his tenth WA Oaks success with Adornment ($3.50) and Dark Choice ($4.40) sitting one-two in TAB betting. His third runner, Vinaceous, is quoted a $21 chance.
At $9 is Willis’ Musket filly, Ping Me Another, a maiden after six starts, but shortening to single figure odds after her last-start second to Jed Affair in the Natasha Stakes (2200m). At her previous run she finished fourth to Adornment in the Ascot Thousand Guineas (1800m).
Willis admitted Ping Me Another’s progression has come a little quicker than what he anticipated and that with each run over a trip she is showing natural improvement.
“I thought it all came early for her, but as the distances increase and we increase her work she has come into her own,” Willis told Tabradio.
“She has just done her last piece of work this morning (Tuesday) at the track and came home and put her head straight in the feed bin.
“We are pretty happy with where we are at the moment. She is conditioned well and is bred to do it. She will stick pretty well this horse.
“Her last two runs have been super. She sat outside of the leader in the Guineas and you could argue she should have run second or third.
“Then in the Natasha Stakes McGruddy (Shaun) gave it a gun ride and she got out late and had a crack.”
Willis said winning the WA Oaks against the state’s biggest racing outfit would be a great confidence boost for his stable.
“We’ve been up there with a few, but we’ve had a lean run for a while,” Willis said.
“It’s good to get this one and I own this one, so it’s even better.
“But we have to beat the cerise and white army, don’t we?”
Ping Me Another has drawn barrier six. Shaun McGruddy retains the ride.
He is looking for his second WA Oaks after Moodometer won in 2006.