Winterbottom Stakes

Punters are in for a treat with a couple of star sprinters set to do battle in the Crown Perth Winterbottom Stakes (1200 metres).

Group One winners Terravista and Malaguerra are the class runners in the field and appear to have the race between them despite having 10 other rivals to worry about.

Malaguerra heads into the race after securing the Group One Darley Classic on Stakes Day.

The Peter Gelagotis-trained runner produced a sensational turn of foot to hit the front at the 300 metres before holding off the fast-finishing Spieth at the finish.

Malaguerra is actually a dual Group One winner at the distance in WFA conditions having captured an exciting BTC Cup in May earlier this year when he was still being trained by Lee and Anthony Freedman.

Ben Melham retains the ride on Malaguerra with the pair ideally drawn in barrier one.

The son of Magnus has had two runs back from a spell with his first-up second to Star Turn at Caulfield an indication of what was to come.

You would have to think that a replication of that run and the Darley Classic triumph would go close to giving him the win here in WA's feature sprint.

Standing in his way though is one of Australia's premier sprinters, Terravista.

Joe Pride's stable star resumed from a seven-month spell with a cracking second to Redzel on November 3. Many who saw the run thought he should've won after jockey Hugh Bowman failed to find clear running at the ideal time. What made the effort even more remarkable is that he was lumping 60.5 kilos that day!

Back to Weight For Age conditions here, Terravista is a huge chance and does perform well second-up where he has three wins and a placing from seven starts.

A look back through the seven-year-old's form shows why he was regarded at one point as the world's premier sprinter.

Five runs ago he finished a narrow third to Delectation in the Darley Classic after Bowman dropped his whip over the concluding stages.

He then finished second to champion sprinter Chautauqua in the Lightning Stakes during the Autumn.

Terravista is class personified and won the 2014 Darley Classic beating Chautauqua and Lankan Rupee in what is one of the more memorable sprint races of the modern era.

Bowman and Terravista will begin from barrier five and the horse has been specifically set for this race by Pride. Discount him at your peril!

If you had to pick one horse that could possibly trouble the leading duo then Takedown would have to be it.

Out of the Gary Moore barn, Takedown won back-to-back Group Two events at Randwick recently when successful in The Shorts and Premier Stakes.

The latter of those wins was under WFA conditions which shows that he will be suited here.

The gelding goes into the race off the back of two unlucky efforts during the Melbourne Spring when placing behind Voodoo Lad and finishing close-up behind Rageese in the Chatham Stakes.

One of the negatives for him is barrier eight on Saturday but with the services of Tim Clark, the pair may be able to slot into a handy enough spot.

Takedown has definitely taken the next step this season but whether it’s enough to trouble Malaguerra and Terravista remains to be seen.

Of the others, local hopes will look to the Bob Peters-owned State Solicitor.

One of the more exciting talents to come out of WA racing in the last few years, State Solicitor has racked up six straight wins following a debut fourth and heads into this full of confidence.

He isn't well suited under the WFA conditions as he carries the same weight as the two favourites, so this will give us a true indication of just how good he is because he has only raced through the classes at Belmont and Ascot.

Premier jockey Willy Pike has chosen to ride him ahead of the stablemates Regal Commander and Battle Hero.

Rock Magic, a winner of 12 races from 34 starts, is the other realistic local hope.
Terravista - 1pt @ 3.20

Regional Championships

While the Winterbottom is the main race on the card it by definitely isn't the only highlight.

One of the support races on the card could threaten to steal the spotlight from the Winterbottom and that is Regional Championship: The Road To Ascot ($1200 metres).

Heats of the series have been conducted over the last few weeks and some impressive up-and-coming performers have emerged.

One of those is Luke's Gold, a lightly-raced gelding trained at Port Kennedy by Vaughn Sigley.

Luke's Gold only commenced racing at the end of August when he won on debut at Belmont. He then went back-to-back with a narrow win at Northam before suffering his first defeat at Ascot on October 26.

Starting favourite, jockey Randy Tan was forced wide for a good portion of the trip on the chestnut but the pair kept finding the line in winding up fourth to Pearl A Decoy.

Last start in a heat of this series, Luke's Gold came from near last at the 800 metre mark to storm home and share the spoils with Sharkmouth at Northam on November 17.

The biggest change here that will affect his chances is the appointment of champion hoop Damien Oliver. They have a tricky draw to contend with (barrier 10) but on what we have seen of the horse so far he is definitely going to be throwing punches late in the piece.

In a race with plenty of chances Battle Torque has to be considered a genuine contender.

The son of Passenger has mixed it with some of the better horses of his age throughout his career but has still accumulated a reasonable record of two wins and four placings from nine starts.

Battle Torque has only had the one run as a four-year-old and that was in a heat of this series on November 17. Well back in the field and still eighth at the 400 metre mark, Battle Torque stormed home to finish just over a length from the dead-heaters in Sharkmouth and Luke's Gold.

He is sure to be improved for the run and he is yet to miss a place in two second-up runs.

The Durrant & Miller-trained runner wasn't far off the likes of boom local Arcadia Dream in the Aquanita Stakes in December last year while his last run as a three-year-old saw him run second to Great Shot at Belmont on June 25. The formlines out of that race are very strong as Great Shot ran a cracking third in the Carbine Club last week. Another horse that finished behind Great Shot and Battle Torque in that race back in June was Rosmartini, who went on to win the Belmont Oaks and Belmont Classic after that run.

That sort of form around those sorts of horses is enough to suggest that Battle Torque is right up to his ears in this. He appears to be a horse on the way up and with champion WA hoop Willy Pike to take the ride, he must be respected despite coming up with a shocking barrier (19).

Others with a strong chance include Granlarado and Secret Minx but you can honestly back three quarters of the field and still miss the winner - it is that open!
Luke's Gold - 1pt @ 5.50
Battle Torque - 1pt @ 10.00

Tattersalls Cup

The Tattersall's Cup (2100 metres) will be the other feature at Ascot with the Gold Cup winner Tonto out to try and capture the double.

A member of the Lou Luciani stable, Tonto ran sixth to Chocolate Holic two starts back with that horse then franking the form by winning the Carbine Club last week.

Tonto then raced on the speed throughout in the Ascot Gold Cup and outstayed his opposition in the Listed $100,000 feature.

With this race being 300 metres more it definitely appears to suit the son of Onemorenomore.

Dark Alert, third to Tonto in the Gold Cup, will be fitter for the outing and tends to get better after a few runs. He's had two starts since a spell so expect him to be peaking in this.

Dark Alert will start from barrier 11 for Pike and is owned by the powerful Peters syndicate.

The interesting runner will be former boom youngster and now four-year-old KiA Ora Koutou.

Out for the Durant & Miller barn, Kia Ora Koutou was among the best three-year-olds in the west and actually ran third in the Victoria Derby last season behind Tarzino. Going into the race unbeaten, Kia Ora Koutou stormed home from well back in the field to fill the minor end of the prize but the run highlighted his huge ability.

Since then it is fair to say that the son of Blackfriars hasn’t quite gone on with the job, failing to win in over a year but he has placed behind a number of talented types. In his two runs back from a spell, he has finished fifth to Scales Of Justice and to Tonto in the Ascot Gold Cup. The Scales Of Justice form has to be rated highly considering that horse led throughout to win last week’s Railway Stakes!
Kia Ora Koutou - 1pt @ 7.50