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FEATURE PREVIEW: WA GUINEAS

WA GUINEAS OVERVIEW

Track: Ascot | Distance: 1600m | Type: Group 2 3YO SW | Rail Position: True Entire | Expected Track Condition: Good 4 | Prizemoney: $500,000

We saw some wildly fast times and an impossibility to make any ground on Day 1 of the Pinnacles and I reckon they’ll be looking to even things up, which can often lead to an over-correction. Horses like Alaskan God and Amelia’s Jewel skipped last week, which turned into a godsend for two natural back markers. We can do all the pre-planning and preparation we want, but when a deck like that is presented, the form goes out the window and the speed maps become integral. With the rail back to the True position, it is worth remembering that this inside pad was clearly off when racing here last. Can we expect improvement or are we going to want to find nags who are settling off the pine? Early shoppers beware.

WA GUINEAS SPEED MAP

This will be run at a good clip. With Man Crush (gate 16), Saintorio (15), Snowdome (10) and even Santa Brae (14) drawn wide, there will need to be some proper intent shown from those hoops to get across and find a position on speed.

What makes things more interesting and should ensure a really good tempo, is that those drawn well – Lord Gannicus (1), Demolish (2), Bustler (4), All The King’s Men (6) and Swear To God (7) – all possess good gate speed, which means it isn’t just a simple amble to the top for the poorly drawn runners. This should ensure a proper tempo.

Forget Snowdome’s start in the Fairetha Stakes. You could actually see him in the air when the starter let them go. Usually a very reliable jumper and I expect that to resume on Saturday. With Saintorio and Man Crush drawn outside of him and the latter of that pair, he’s probably a better horse when finding the rail. It wouldn’t surprise me if they show real intent to get across, leaving Snowdome with some cover. The alternate option is Chris Parnham channelling his ride on War Saint in the 2019 WA Guineas and taking some real ownership from the front. If we get a deck like last Saturday, it could be a winning move.

Swear To God has the best gate speed from the well-drawn list above. Should cross most of those under him and find a spot in about 4th-5th with the major dangers in behind. The three market elects have drawn alongside each other in Bustler, All The King’s Men and Amelia’s Jewel. Should be a fascinating tactical battle. Bustler clearly has the most gate speed and can land in front of that duo if Steve so desires. The query probably is does he want to give that pair the cart or would he prefer to be the one chasing? While Amelia’s Jewel has drawn a nice alley, with the speed coming across and around her, she’s still likely to end up in about 8th-to-10th spot. That’s her normal racing pattern anyway, so no harm done. She very well might be having the final pop in the Bustler–All The King’s Men train.

WA GUINEAS KEY RUNNERS

1. Snowdome  – Only SP’d slightly longer than Bustler in the Fairetha when his race was cooked after rearing in the machines. It’s often understated the negative effect using that early fuel can do for a horse racing on speed. Prior to that, he arguably wins the Belgravia Stakes without the interference received. So you quickly start looking at him as a slightly forgotten horse. Big advantage with being on speed is the now-sanctioned use of a whip to stop other runners as they go by #perthstewards.

2. Saintorio – The barrier draw is a real shame for this bloke as he’s fit as a fiddle and now proven over the mile. Finished under a length off All The King’s Men two starts ago and meets him a kilo and a half better (and is triple his price). Needs a serious steer from Brad Parnham, but if we see a similar style deck to last week, you get the feeling he’s the on-pace type who will not lay down.

3. All The King’s Men – Held up the entirety at his second start, deep throughout at his third, held up the majority at his fifth and left in the unsuitable breeze at his sixth. He’s three wins from 9 starts, but that could easily be 5 wins or 6. Incredibly brave in the Fairetha Stakes when it took Bustler the entirety of the straight to wear him down. You just know that Paul Harvey will be up for this tactical battle throughout and may even relish being drawn directly outside the two favourites (Pont won’t be opening the door for you). With the heavy-hitter owners finally arriving on course from Port Hedland, you’d expect that finds him at least a length.

4. Man Crush – Ugly old draw for a real tough on-speed type. Might have some designs on finding the fence, but you wonder what type of fuel he’ll have to use to get there. The booking of Clint Johnston-Porter on the less-credentialled stablemate is eye-catching and may give an indication on a stable pecking order.

5. Swear To God – This has to be the forgotten runner. It was only timing which kept him out of the Ascot features in his initial campaign when his only defeat came at the hands of Snowdome (after sitting deep the majority and finally working to the breeze in an off-pace dominated race). Resumed with a second to All Show (nobody was beating All Show that day) before knocking off Written Matter in a RB 66+. Funnily enough, he almost lost some admirers that day (myself included) as we felt the win should have perhaps been a little more dominant, which – after seeing Written Matter brain them at its next outing – may have been a fairly harsh assessment. All The King’s Men & Bustler have beaten up on the older opposition by bigger margins, but that form is significantly inferior. He was basically held up the entirety behind Big Screen at his next start, but it was clear he was going super. Like the booking of Shaun O’Donnell as he’s got the gate speed to come across and sit just behind a strong tempo and he’ll suddenly go around at $20.00+ after being backed ($4.60 to $3.30) to beat the likes of Rokanori, Above The Peg and Playing Marika at his most recent.

6. Bustler – Shot into WA Guineas & Northerly Stakes calculations after a couple of dominant performances in the reserves (Miss Vasari, Sweet Tea, Capricorn Man form hasn’t been overly franked). Finally stepped into the big time and it showed the class disparity of those races when he was made to really earn his win under the vigour of Steve Parnham. Four from four, the soft draw and a preparation which has basically been faultless. Very hard to knock and will understandably be super popular with punters.

7. Rejuva King – Never want to put a line through a Daniel Morton runner, but this looks a tough assignment. Did beat the older horses in similar fashion to Saintorio before a little freshen up – and you know that Danny always has them peaking for Grand Final day.

8. Lord Gannicus – Pretty disappointing at his most recent and his prior form was against moderate midweek opposition. From the inside marble, with reasonable gate speed he becomes a major ‘road-block’ chance.

9. Demolish – Similar to Lord Gannicus, he will be outclassed here, but does have gate speed and a gate to work with. Maps nice, but lacks the class.

10. Upper Limits – The first thing I think about every time I see this horse nominated is the pair of ‘Upper Limitz’ shorts I owned when I was 14 that nearly made it to my ankles. Thought I was anything. Reckon they still wouldn’t fit me now. Super run in the Fairetha Stakes behind two of the 3 hot-pots. He’s probably a length off the top-liners, but is a definite top six or 7 hope with the consistency in his performances. Should eat up the mile.

11. Sunny Honey – Super in the Placid Ark Stakes a week ago and is a really wild point of difference runner in this. Prior effort when 1.8 lengths off Prawns Eleven was made on a cold cutaway and if he does run out a mile, he could finish significantly higher than his SP would suggest.

12. Mojo’s Luck – Clearly talented, but still yet to master the art of leaving the machines. Clint Johnston-Porter is a noticeable booking when you perhaps would have expected to see him booked to the better credentialled Man Crush.

13. Catch These Hands – This has all come a bit too soon for this bloke, though does look like making a nice race horse.

14. Santa Brae – If Ross Price ends a reasonable run out of outs here, it may well see me retire from punting. A tough assignment would be an understatement.

15. Amelia’s Jewel – The darling of WA racing, she was simply unstoppable from any position in her debut campaign. I’ve always had a theory that some two-year-olds simply don’t return the same horse or improve with their opposition, which has led to me looking around her at the very short quotes first-and-second up. Felt she was only fair in both trials and got given a 20/10 ride by Patty Carbery on the right part of the track for her first-up win (third horse copped interference and Rumour Says was held up the entirety when very likely winning the race). Then she couldn’t get past Laced Up Heels (when again, given a peach on her back) in the Burgess Queen Stakes. Her trainer Simon Miller has openly said it’s been a progression this campaign and I actually feel the market has more adequately priced her here (close to $3.00). Is the weighted runner on rating and Pat Carbery gives her peach after peach. Deserves favouritism.

16. Linden Lady – Huge improver in the Champion Fillies Stakes with William Pike willing her into a very valuable black-type placing.  Will be ridden in a similar manner here and being the only runner backing up from last week’s Group 3. She does have a real strong point of difference.

WA GUINEAS SUMMARY

I was a little disappointed post-Champion Fillies Stakes when I’d speculated that the market differential between the top two and the rest was perhaps a little wide without really acting upon it (I still haven’t backed a post-race loser). Perhaps the way I’m heading this week is an over-reaction to that, but I’m not going to be to overly perturbed if any of the three market elects win at their current quotes. Clearly there is next to nothing between BUSTLER and ALL THE KING’S MEN.

AMELIA’S JEWEL is my clear market elect. She’s the weighted runner, she’s drawn an alley and is a deserved favourite. It’s simply a case of her being below a bet price for me. It’s interesting to note that none of the runners who filled a top 5 spot in the Burgess Queen (behind her and Laced Up Heels) ran any type of race in the Champion Fillies (3rd, 4th and 5th in the Burgess Queen each ran 7th, 8th and 11th – well below their market SP order).

It’s far from a declaration, but at the price, I’m happy speculating on SWEAR TO GOD. He’s dodged the 3yo features thus far this prep, but his battles against the older horses have clearly been the tougher assignments from the others to take on the older brigade (Bustler, All The King’s Men and Saintorio) and he probably should have won the most recent. The only thing lacking from this race is the lack of fillies. Amelia’s Jewel’s trainer Simon Miller has very aptly described it as ‘The Big Bash’ for the girls and you’d love to see the program allow a slightly bigger gap between the Champion Fillies and WA Guineas to get a few more of them involved. Still, it’s a cracking race with a fascinating tactical aspect with the 3 fancies drawn alongside each other.

TERRY LEIGHTON’S TOP SELECTIONS

5. Swear To God
15. Amelia’s Jewel
6. Bustler
3. All The King’s Men

Betting Strategy

The disparity in the actual market is far more significant than my own, which leads to a little each-way play on a value runner.

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