The surprise scratching of Balmont Girl from the Group 2 $250,000 LD Total – C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot on Saturday will ensure that Elite Belle will start the short priced favourite in the weight for age contest.
Trainer Paula Wagg opted to start Balmont Girl in the easier Listed $100,000 Perth Ice Works W.A. St Leger (2100m) leaving Ladbrokes.com.au to posted Elite Belle at the top of the market order at $2.80.
Her nearest rival is the former Victorian trained Bass Strait at $4 ahead of 2013 winner Ihtsahymn at $7 and veteran Mr Moet at $7.50.
Elite Belle showed her class during the Perth Autumn Carnival at Belmont with wins in the Group 3 $125,000 Belmont Sprint (1400m) and Group 3 $125,000 Hyperion Stakes (1600m).
And the Grant Williams trained mare carried that winning form into the Festival Of Perth Racing Carnival at Ascot with wins in the Group 3 $150,000 Sea Corp Starlight Prince Of Wales Stakes (1200m) and a victory at Group 1 level in the $1m Carlton Draught-Railway Stakes (1600m).
Then at her latest run Elite Belle came from well back in the field to run two and a quarter lengths third to the Chris Waller trained Moriarty in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB Touch – Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 6.
Leading Perth jockey William Pike is back aboard Elite Belle in the C.B. Cox Stakes replacing Peter Hall.
Pike is the regular rider for the Canny Lad mare but jumped off to ride three year old stablemate Disposition in the Kingston Town Classic because that age group had a distinct weight advantage at the weight for age scale.
Pike’s decision nearly paid dividends with Disposition going down by a head to Moriarty.
Top local apprentice Chris Parnham is hoping to have Bass Strait closer to the lead from barrier two after the five year old travelled near the tail of the field before running home for sixth to Moriarty in the Kingston Town Classic.
“He was a good run last start,” Parnham said.
“He probably just got a bit too far back. Hopefully he’ll be a bit more forward in the Cox Stakes.”
Parnham and Bass Strait combined two starts earlier to take out the Group 3 $150,000 R.J. Peters Stakes (1500m) at Ascot on November 15.
In early markets moves the Adam Durant trained Chester Road has come in for some support and shortened up slightly from $12 to $11.
The seven year old was off the scene due to injury for almost two years after finishing second to Mr Moet in the 2012 C.B. Cox Stakes and has been well beaten at his two runs back with a twelfth in the Railway Stakes and an eleventh in the Kingston Town Classic.