Early favourite Balmont Girl has drawn midfield in the Group 2 $250,000 LD Total – C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Balmont Girl, to be ridden by Shaun O’Donnell, has come up with barrier eight in the final field of fourteen in the weight for age contest while second favourite Elite Belle has drawn well at gate four.
Others prominent in the market order are Bass Strait (Chris Parnham) who has drawn beautifully at two and 2012 winner Mr Moet (Daniel Staeck) who came up with marble nine.
2011 C.B. Cox Stakes winner God Has Spoken (Brad Parnham) drew gate ten while last year’s victor Ihtsahymn (Steven Parnham) came up with barrier six.
Leading Perth jockey William Pike will be back aboard Elite Belle in the C.B. Cox Stakes after dumping her to ride stablemate Disposition in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB Touch – Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 6.
Pike had been the regular rider for Elite Belle during her career with the pair sharing eight of her nine wins including a victory in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught-Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on November 22.
The premiership winning jockey was also the regular rider for the Grant Williams trained stalemate Disposition, owned by the same connections, whom he rode into second spot behind Rommel in the Group 2 $400,000 Sky Racing-W.A. Guineas (1600m) at Ascot on November 22.
Three year olds have a huge weight advantage under the weight for age scale and Pike’s decision nearly paid off when he was beaten in a tight photo finish by the Chris Waller trained Moriarty in the Kingston Town Classic.
Pike takes over from Peter Hall who rode Elite Belle into third spot in the Kingston Town Classic.
Pike is certain to give Elite Belle a quiet run from gate four while Shaun O’Donnel l on Balmont Girl will be looking to slot in and get some cover just worse than midfield from his wider alley.
The furthest Elite Belle has won over is 1800m when she took out the Listed $100,000 Ascend Sales Trophies – La Trice Classic at Ascot on January 1 while Balmont Girl will have no problems with the 2100m after winning this year’s Group 3 $250,000 W.A. Oaks over 2400m at Ascot in March.
Prominent owner Bob Peters is happy to test Elite Belle over a middle distance again and said that she is going better this year than she was twelve months ago when ninth to Ihtsahymn in the 2013 C.B. Cox Stakes.
“She is coming on well, and she is probably going better this year than she was last year,” Peters said.
The Paula Wagg trained Balmont Girl has been posted the early favourite for the weight for age C.B. Cox Stakes at $3.50 just ahead of Elite Belle at $3.80.
Bass Strait is next in the betting at $5 with veteran Mr Moet marked as a $10 chance with 2013 winner Ihtsahymn at $11.