Experienced Melbourne jockey Steven Arnold re-unites with Perth sprinter Watermans Bay in the Group 1 $1m Crown Perth-Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday and has labelled five times Group 1 winner Buffering as the horse to beat.
The Dan Morton trained Watermans Bay finished third to Buffering in the Winterbottom Stakes two years ago and then last year when ridden by Arnold was beaten a long neck when second to Magnifisio.
“This is the right sort of race for Watermans Bay, the only one that stands out is Buffering,” Arnold told AAP.
“If Buffering turns up in his best shape he’s probably got the class edge on the rest of the field.
“But my guy is honest, he’s a local, he ran well the other day so I think he’s in the mix.”
Arnold teamed up with Watermans Bay again when Morton gave the gelding a 2015 Melbourne Autumn Carnival campaign and the pair combined for a fifth to Lankan Rupee in the Group 1 $500,000 Black Caviar Lightning (1000m) at Flemington and a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Victoria Handicap (1400m) at Caulfield.
Arnold is always keen to hop on a Morton trained galloper and is hoping for good luck on Saturday so as to go one better than last year when he struck some minor interference on Watermans Bay.
“I’m always happy to jump on one of Dan’s horses. He’s a really good trainer and he thinks Watermans Bay’s going well,” Arnold said.
“I rode him in the race last year and I thought it was a great run. I actually protested against the winner.”
“It caused a little bit of interference early and I only got beaten a head or something, so I threw in a protest and I thought I might get it.”
Arnold’s association with Morton goes back to 2009 when they teamed up with brilliant sprinter Scenic Blast to win the Group 1 $500,000 Lightning Stakes (1000m) and the Group 1 $1m Newmarket Handicap (1200m) both at Flemington during the Melbourne Autumn Carnival.
Morton then took Scenic Blast to England where Arnold steered him to a historic win in the Group 1 £350,000 The King’s Stand Stakes (5 furlongs) at Royal Ascot.
Watermans Bay has had one lead up run for the Winterbottojm Stakes for a second to Rock Magic in the Group 3 $150,000 Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m) at Ascot on November 3 when ridden by William Pike.
Pike will ride the Grant Williams trained Shining Knight in the Winterbottom Stakes.
Queensland’s number one sprinter Buffering heads the market order at $4 for the Winterbottom Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au on the back of some good Melbourne Spring Carnival form.
The Robert Heathcote trained eight year old collected his fifth Group 1 victory when he resumed for a win in the Group 1 $450,000 City Jeep Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley on October 2 and then showed a clean set of heels in the Group 1 $1m Manikato Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 23 before finishing fifth to Chautauqua.
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Then at his latest outing the eight year old showed his customary speed before getting run over by Delectation, Chautauqua and Terravista when fourth in the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on the last day of the four day Melbourne Cup Carnival on November 7.
On the second line of betting at $5.50 is the David Hayes and Tom Dabernig trained Fast ‘N’ Rocking with Watermans Bay quoted as a $7.50 chance.
Winterbottom Stakes market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $4 Buffering, $5.50 Fast ‘N’ Rocking, $7.50 Watermans Bay, $8 Magnifisio, Lucky Street, $11 Shining Knight, Silverstream, $13 Rock Magic, $26 Liberty’s Gem, $34 Rommel, $41 Checkpoint, Sujet, $51 Dawn Approach, Madassa, $61 Cool Trade, $101 Akhedasset.