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Railway Stakes preview

It's Super Saturday at Ascot, the Western Australian version, and the feature race of the day is the $1m Railway Stakes. Taking the reins for the preview is @BrisburghPhil who writes for the ReadingThePlay website.

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Railway Stakes 2013

Winners since 2000;

2012 MR MOET 5G (4) 53.5KG
2011 LUCKYGRAY 4G (12) 53KG
2010 GATHERING 4G (6) 52KG
2009 SNIPER’S BULLET 6G (12) 53KG
2008 GILDED VENOM 4G (9) 52KG
2007 EL PRESIDENTE 4G (4) 55.5KG
2006 BELLE BIZARRE 5M (6) 54KG
2005 COVERTLY 4M (2) 51KG
2004 MODEM 6G (7) 55KG
2003 HARDRADA 4G (13) 54KG (Race staged at Belmont).
2002 OLD FASHION 5G (1) 54.5KG
2001 OLD COMRADE 4G (8) 53.5KG
2000 NORTHERLY 4G (12) 51KG

From a punting perspective it is very helpful to look at the past winners of this event, not for what they went on to do thereafter, moreso for what they had done just prior. A good historical anlayis of these winners has been of enormous benefit in finding the victor in recent years. The following can almost be listed as prerequisites to winning the event;

1. 23 winners since 1985 finished first, second or third at their prior start. Stick with an in-form galloper!

2. Only one winner has carried more than 55.5 kg to win the race since 1985 (Sniper’s Bullet) and only three have carried 55kg or more. One of them was an odds on favourite (El Presidente) who carried only 0.5kg over the limit, and another was the out and out champion in Better Loosen Up. 2004 winner Modem carried 55kg and was only 3kg over the limit.
Average winning weight since 1995 is 52.5kg and lower than that since 1985.

3. The Barrier draw in recent years seems to have added significance. Only four of the last 16 winners have come from Barrier 10 or worse. One of those was Northerly who sat four wide most of the race from memory, pretty much unheard of in a G1 event, and definitely a prelude to his Champion status earned in the next 12 months. From 1988-1992 all five winners came from barrier 11 or wider so the trend has definitely reversed since then for some reason.

4. 22 of the last 54 winners, and 12 of the last 25 have been 4yos. The remaining 11 of those 21 have been 5yo (4), 6yos (6) and 7yos (3).

5. It is not necessary to have won at 1600m or more to win the event. Seven of the last 18 winners were yet to do so including Northerly (although 2 had placed at or beyond it- Sniper’s Bullet, Gathering). That tends to suggest that it isn't an overly tough mile or maybe that the pace can often be moderate.

6. It is best to have an ability to race on the pace or in the first half of the field. Nine winners since 1985 have come from further back than that but drawing wide and going back in recent years does seem to be a further recipe for disaster. Only one winner since 1994 has been able to win the event given that scenario.

7. Stick with those horses that have a prolific strike rate. The vast majority who have this race have at least a 25% overall winning strike rate.

8. 10 of the last 18 winners had a starting price of between $6 and $9.

9. Only three winners since 1985 has won the race off more than a 16 day break. It was Better Loosen Up. There is no horse near the class BLU this year so it would be very wise to ignore anything in the race coming off a bigger break than that.

10. Only two Entires (not Geldings) have won the race in the past 25 years with the last being Island Morn in 1994.

Summing up from a Historical perspective the horse should preferably;
Have won or placed at its last start
Be weighted with 55kg and preferably less than 53kg.
Be drawn lower than 10, unless it has the ability to cross and lead or co-lead.
Have an ability to race on or somewhere near the pace
Be a fairly prolific winner (25% win rate or more)
Start at $9 or less
Have had it's last start within 17 days of this race.
Be a Gelding or Mare.

Analysis;

I am largely basing this on historical data so I will only be analysing those horses’ that look capable of winning the race from that perspective. Given we have a minimum weight of 53kg this year, whereas it is normally 52 or 53kg I think it is wise to set the maximum winning weight as 57kg. That leaves out the 2 class WA Gallopers Luckygray and Mr Moet, and both are drawn horribly wide anyway so either would be difficult to tip even with a kilo or so less. I very much doubt that a WA horse can win the race this year going on what LG & Mr M did in Victoria during the Spring, and they are clearly the class gallopers representing their state. Kerriffic was good last start winning with a big weight but both he and Ranger are now 7 years of age and likely to struggle in this lineup. Certainly both are capable of running into a place but just doubtful they can win. Platinum Rocker is an in form mare but probably not up to this level and she is 6 years of age. I’m chancing my arm a bit and just reviewing six Eastern States gallopers who look to have very solid winning prospects ;

CONSERVATORIUM- Looks one of the top hopes here. He is not quite the right age being a 6yo BUT two of those have saluted in the past nine years and he has had the one run here this time around winning at WFA in one of the main lead up races (Le Steere Stakes). He was almost certainly not at his top last start either with three weeks between runs ,and coming off a well below par second up run. His record with 14 days or less between runs is quite astonishing really, 5-4/10 and if he wins here he will replicate his fourth up victory last preparation at Ipswich in the Eye Liner during the Winter. Subsequent to that win he ran a very close second to Fire Up Fifi at this distance at Doomben. That was on a Slow track too, probably not his best surface and he conceded that mare 4.5kg along with carrying 60.5kg top weight. He meets her 2.5kg better in this and given she was less than 3L away at G1 Mares level Flemington last start, he has to be a very serious chance here. He has a middle barrier and the on pace racing pattern that is suited to this race and track. He is yet to win at this distance but as mentioned in the historical data that is not really a negative, and the placing in Brisbane all but proves he can run it out.

SMOKIN’ JOEY- Is surely in career best form right now. Since the winkers were applied two starts ago for his new stable he boasts a G3 win and a G1 second in the Emirates which is surely the best form coming into this race. He has always had the ability and that was pretty evident in the Autumn of 2012 in Victoria when he was winning and running some super times at 1400m. His problem has been consistency and a poor overall winning strike rate. He too is a 6yo Gelding and yet to win at this distance from seven attempts, but the fact his only placing at the trip was at his last start at G1 level we have to give him the benefit of the doubt here. A possible weakness is his 0/9 outside of Victoria but he is on top of his game, drawn well & loves hard tracks. He does tend to get back in his races which could present him with a problem, but if he stays in touch early,and gets no further back than midfield, he is going to take a hell of a lot of beating here.

FIRE UP FIFI- Very consistent mare who has an extremely good strike rate. Whilst she is probably not quite capable of winning at G1 level in the Eastern states this could be her opportunity to break through at the highest level. She is a 6yo mare though which is not a good precedent historically, and her wide draw and rearward racing pattern make it hard to see her as one of the better chances here. I’ve already mentioned the weight turnaround Conservatorium gets on her from the Winter so I’m looking around her for the winner here. Her best chance is a hot speed up front which would negate her barrier and allow her to finish over the top. That is a possibility but not a distinct one unfortunately.

MUTUAL TRUST- Has had some decent backing in pre post markets and his form this preparation looks solid enough to put him in the picture big time here. This former G1 winning French 3yo is now 5 years of age and has arguably improved at each of his Australian starts. At his last 3 starts he has been beaten 4L at G1 level, 3L at G1 level and then 1 length in the Sale Cup by Mouro who has since franked the form by winning the G3 Eclipse last weekend at Caulfield carrying a big impost of 59kg. His a 5yo Gelding which is not ideal historically (last winner Old Fashion 2002). but he has an on paceracing style that is and his record at this distance is a decent 4-1/9 (0-0/4 at other distances) and this break between runs is better for him than at his past 2 runs. He is 3-1/6 with more than 14 and less than 30 days between runs and he too has drawn ideally with WA’s favourite son Damian Oliver aboard. The horse he beat winning this distance at G1 level in France (Zoffany) had previously run Frankel to less than a length at Ascot. That horse was an absolute freak that went unbeaten in his career, arguably one of the best of all time, so if this horse runs to his European from here he probably can’t be beaten with this weight, given ordinary luck. Possibly pertinent to recognise that Damien Oliver goes okay on an imported horse too (Fiorente, Media Puzzle, Pop Rock, Purple Moon) to mention a few. A possible negative that he has been Gelded since his time in Europe and his trainer doesn’t rate him good enough to win at G1 level in Victoria at the present time. This is winnable though.

LONGPORT- Historically she is the king pin here. 4yo Mare, on pacer, and a last start winner in a decent class race. My only query is a slightly awkward barrier and other pace in the race which could mean she gets a wide run in transit. It really depends on how she jumps in the race in relation to the likes of Conservatorium, Mutual Trust inside of her and Platinum Rocker outside of her but I’m guessing she can beat those to the punch inside of her and if so the other mare (PR) won’t cross her. Given that she should find the rail or be one off which is fine. There is no doubting she is a class mare and the fact she has beaten Norzita and placed behind that mare twice (and run time) definitely proves it. If that mare was carrying 53.5kg here she would be a clear favourite no doubt whatsoever. She is now with a new trainer and looks back to her very best so her winning prospects here are second to none if she doesn’t get too much opposition for the lead. Very hard to beat with the right run in the race.

PLUCKY BELLE- Has her share of ability and is also most probably in career best form. I say most probably because I did Blackbook her in her last preparation at Caulfield when she won at 1400m running a terrrific sectional from the rear. She then went North to Sydney and wasn’t disgraced in G2 Mares Class beaten 1.5L at this distance. She has already won twice third up in her campaigns and has started off this one far better than in the past. She is a 5yo mare as was Belle Bizarre the winner of this race in 2005 but unlike that mare she isn’t an on pacer. She has also drawn a bit wider than ideal but at least 12 barrier (if emergencies are scratched) has been prolific of late being the winning one twice in the last four years. Whilst she hasn’t won at 1600m her dam Winning Belle managed to get within a length of Champion mare Makybe Diva in an Australian Cup at 2000 so now that his mare has fully matured it shouldn’t be a problem. Like Fire Up Fifi her chances probably depend on a faster than average tempo up front to bring her into the race. Given that she could be the surprise packet and she is being kept safe in betting here. I prefer her to FUF but still have third others slightly ahead.

Conclusion;

This is no easy task to separate the better chances mentioned above. Given I have mentioned six of the interstate brigade it is interesting that the past two interstate winners have come here off a decidedly ordinary run beforehand (Gathering & Sniper’s Bullet) and both had raced at 1600m prior. Whilst MUTUAL TRUST didn’t run poorly last time it might pay to realise that he hasn’t peaked yet, and much like Gathering he comes off a favoured break between runs. He is the longest price of the four too ($14 Sportsbet) so represents significant value.

I have to side with history in naming LONGPORT as the main danger and like Gathering and Sniper’s Bullet (as well as controversial protest defeated He’s Remarkable in 2011) she has had a run or two at Flemington in her current campaign (Gathering and He’s Remarkable both won at Flemington). The $6.50 about her is a good price on Tattsbet.

Hard to believe I have picked CONSERVATORIUM for 3rd here. He looks terribly hard to beat but just maybe he has 1kg too much in comparison to the two I have slightly ahead of him.

The tempo of the race could have a major bearing in the result but this should be a great rendition of an always intriguing race.

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