The Group 1 Kirin Railway Stakes is the first of three Group 1’s to make up The Masters carnival at Ascot in WA. Saturday’s feature race will be followed by the Winterbottom Stakes and Kingston Town Classic in the next fortnight, with a host of quality Eastern States gallopers making the trip across.
The track will be a Good 4 and the rail is in the true position for the Railway this weekend, with a full field of 15 set to line up over the 1600m.
Given the Railway Stakes is a handicap race, we can see some historical trends begin to arise when we take a deeper look at the winners in recent years. Moreover, a particular profile of horse seems to achieve success more often than not.
Six of the last seven winners have carried 53-53.5kg, with the outlier being 2013 winner Luckygray (his second Railway Stakes victory) when he carried 58kg. In addition to that, the last 20 winners of this race have been aged between four and six. Last year’s winner Great Shot was a 5YO when contesting this race last year and he carried 53.5kg to victory.
Willoughby (1998), Bold Extreme (1996) and Zaparri (1994) were all seven-year-olds to have tasted success, but importantly, they all carried light weights.
That means history doesn’t read well for those at the top of the weights, particularly those over the age of six.
The horses that fit the 4YO-6YO with 53-53.5kg category in this year’s race are Peaceful State, Achernar Star, Action, Galaxy Star, Iconoclasm, Perfect Jewel and Wrinkly.
Looks to have gone a little bit under the radar here, the Perth Cup winner. His Winter campaign consisted of three Group 3 wins from as many starts, where he defeated the likes of Great Shot and Gatting. Of course, the queries here are the weight and the fact he comes into this first up. His potential Melbourne campaign was derailed by injury, but he’s trialled well leading into the race suggesting he’s overcome that issue. His first up record is three wins from four starts and his record at the mile is five wins from six. I don’t think this is necessarily a vintage edition of the race so with the good draw, WA’s best horse in the last 12 months deserves some respect. There’s still $13 available for him, which is a price I’d definitely be having a saver on.
Last year’s winner of the race at 30/1 and he comes into this year’s race at $18. He fitted the perfect mould last year – a 5YO with 53.5kg and the ability to put himself up on speed. He’ll be up on speed again and the scratching of Scales Of Justice probably suits him as it takes another potential pace threat out of the race. With that said, I doubt he will lead with Wrinkly in the race carrying 53kg. He’s had three starts this prep for three placings and hasn’t been beaten far in any of them. Gets a weight swing in his favour against the likes of Galaxy Star and Man Booker from two starts back, but he was beaten by Gatting and Achernar Star last start, and they both get a weight swing on him today. He’s undefeated over the track and distance and while I expect he’ll run his usual brave race, I don’t see him as a winning chance this year.
Bolted in to win the Farnley Stakes three starts ago and then fought hard to nose out Galaxy Star in the Northerly Stakes. Last start he was again very heavily backed to win the Northerly Stakes but could only manage 4th behind Gatting and Achernar Star, both of which get a weight swing on him today. He’ll roll forward from barrier 11 but I think there’s others better suited.
Surprise winner of the Lee Steere Stakes first up, defeating Achernar Star and Great Shot. That was his first win at 1400m and he now steps up to 1600m second up, but this is a distance he’s previously struggled at (one placing from five starts). Could it have been that he just sprinted better fresh and now might just be a touch dourer second up? Or was it a case of the blinkers really having an effect when he wore them for the first time in that race? Hard to know, but the big negative for him today is the bar plates going back on. That’s enough to turn me off but he does get a nice barrier and Damian Lane takes the ride. Will need luck in the straight.
Really is quite amazing that this horse still has his testicles though I suppose he is a G1 Derby winner. Nevertheless, he was only half-a-length off Cliff’s Edge in G2 company two starts ago over this distance and was only beaten 2.15L in G1 company last time out. Drops back from 2000m to 1600m and despite this probably being his best distance, he’s got obvious limitations. Doesn’t win out of turn (just three wins from 32 starts), just one win from 19 starts on Good ground and he’s drawn a bit awkward in barrier 9. Happy to oppose him.
Racing relatively well despite his two most recent runs possibly appearing below par. If we go back through his form, he won two on the trot over 1500m-1600m before two luckless runs in Group 1 company. In the Epsom, he settled at the back and had traffic issues in the straight, but was beaten less than 3L by Hartnell. Then last start, he was going well again before being checked at the 300m, losing any chance. He’s weighted to win and draws beautifully in barrier 6, but he’s going to need a very good ride and a good deal of luck if he’s coming from the back of the field. It’s not easy to win from the rear at Ascot, especially if you’ve got to negotiate traffic in the straight. Over the odds at $21.
My top pick in the race. He’s one of two Darren Weir-trained horses in the race and he comes off a 3rd placing to Best Of Days and Le Romain in the G1 Kennedy Mile at Flemington. That is legitimate Group 1 form and I expect that form to stand up here in a significantly inferior race. He fits the perfect profile as a 4YO with 53.5kg on his back and he’s drawn nicely in barrier 4. The only little query will be how far back he gets – he’s likely to need luck, but if he gets it, I think he’ll win.
Easy to forget this horse ran a luckless 3rd in last year’s Kingston Town Classic as a 3YO. He did a good job last start when finishing 2nd behind Gatting in the Lee Steere Stakes and he gets a nice weight drop from the WFA conditions (59kg) to the handicap weight of 53kg. He actually profiles uncannily similar to what Great Shot did last year – both ran 3rd in the Northam Cup and both ran 2nd in the Lee Steere Stakes leading into the Railway. He’s drawn awkwardly but at $18 I won’t be losing on him.
The WA Derby winner resumed with runner up finishes behind Achernar Star and Galaxy Star before disappointing as the short-priced favourite in the RJ Peters Stakes last start. Unfortunately, his racing pattern often means he needs luck and he’s definitely going to be coming from a long way back after drawing barrier 15 here. He’s probably a bit outclassed by a few others at this distance but if they were to go ridiculously hard, he will be hitting the line hard out wide.
The 7YO hasn’t been at his best for a long time now and the stable change to the Gangemi camp hasn’t produced any further success either. He was reasonable first up behind Enticing Star in a small field but he’s been below par in his two most recent starts. The blinkers go back on for today’s race but he’d need to improve out of sight to be competitive.
The well-backed favourite for the race. She’s now a $2.90 chance after opening around $3.30 post-barrier draw. I know she’s got nine wins and three 2nds from 12 career starts, but I think she’s well and truly short enough at that price. Prior to last start, the best grade she’d won in was BM78+ company. She was rolled by Man Booker first up as the short-priced favourite (granted she may have had plenty of improvement in her) and then spanked a small field in the G3 Asian Beau Stakes as the $1.50 favourite last start. Barrier 2 means she could be three or four pairs back on the rail, which means Pike will ride for luck. The luck came when he rode Elite Belle to victory in this race in 2014, but there’s a couple of handy horses that he won’t be wanting to let get a head start on him today. In summary, I think she’s an obvious chance, but she isn’t my top pick and I think she’s very short in the market.
Darren Weir’s second-elect in the race but I think he still rates as a leading chance at $10. Three starts ago he bolted in to win the Weekend Hussler Stakes at Caulfield (subsequent winner Sircconi was back in 3rd) and followed that with a win over Widgee Turf at Moonee Valley. Last start, he simply got caught on speed in a very fast run race in the Kennedy Mile, but was still only beaten 2.65L. From the wide draw, he’ll roll forward and he’s another that perfectly fits the profile of a 4YO with 53kg. Strong chance and a good price.
Last year’s WA Guines winner who then ran 4th in the Kingston Town Classic as a $5.50 chance. She actually defeated Achernar Star in the Guineas and that form obviously stood up in the WFA Group 1. Unfortunately, she’s looked a shadow of herself in two runs this time in. She was a huge drifter first up and ran accordingly, before again drifting from $9-$15 last start when she ran last. Third up, up to the mile and down in weight, but she isn’t going well enough.
The 2016 Perth Cup winner, who then had a preparation with Darren Weir which saw him win in Melbourne on his way to running 2nd in the G1 Doomben Cup, but since then he’s been distinctly average. He hasn’t placed in six starts since that runner up finish and he’s now a 7YO so unlikely to turn his form around. Drawn poorly and looks unders at $101.
Important runner because he looks the horse that will inject significant pace into the race. He likes to get out in front and run along quickly, so from his inside draw he’s likely to hold out the likes of Great Shot for the lead. He typically takes a few runs to come good but even with two runs under his belt, he’s outclassed in a race like this. His best victory to date was in BM72+ grade so he’s out of his depth. Could help set it up for something like Peaceful State though!
I’m very happy to stick with the genuine Eastern States Group 1 form here. This race reminds me a bit of last year’s Winterbottom Stakes, where plenty was made about State Solicitor, but his form didn’t at all warrant him being favourite in a legitimate Group 1 sprint. The genuine Group 1 horses came to the fore and that’s what I’m looking for in this year’s Railway Stakes. That leaves me with Peaceful State on top, who was a length off the winner in a real Group 1 race over the Flemington carnival. If he gets the right run from barrier 4 and gets luck at the right time, I think he’ll win. Iconoclasm also came out of the Kennedy Mile, where he just wasn’t suited by the fast pace. He can put himself in a prominent position here and I’m not underestimating his ability to win a race like this. Galaxy Star is obviously hugely talented but I don’t think she’s actually beat a great deal in her career and I don’t think her form warrants her being favourite. She could well prove me wrong but I think the market has it a bit wrong. Achernar Star profiles very well and his prep is reminiscent of Great Shot from last year. Mister Sea Wolf is over the odds at $21, while Material Man might just be the forgotten horse in the race.
2nd ICONOCLASM $10.00
3rd ACHERNAR STAR $18.00
4th MATERIAL MAN $13.00
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