Despite having been rushed into their Railway Stakes bid, connections of veteran Bunbury-based galloper Kerrific are confident they can be competitive in the Perth Group 1 this Saturday.
A bumper field of 16 confirmed starters plus four emergencies is set to square off in this year’s edition of the $1 million Group 1 Carlton Draught Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot Racecourse.
Of those engaged in WA’s richest race it is Victorian visitor Smokin’ Joey ($4.20), last seen running a devastatingly close second to the Chris Waller-trained Boban in Melbourne’s Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m), who is top fancy to win.
Interstate raiders are dominating the Railway Stakes markets too with other top fancies including Peter Moody’s Plucky Belle, and Brisbane-trained mares Fire Up Fifi (Robert Heathcote) and Longport (Danny Bougoure).
Of the local hopes Kerrific at a quote of around $17 is one of the better supported, the seven-year-old racing for the third time in as many weeks.
Always honest the Blackfriars gelding is one of three chances for their sire in the race along with the Neville Parnham-trained brothers Playing God and God Has Spoken.
Kerrific will also be lining up for their 40th career start this weekend.
After a first-up ninth, beating home just one other runner in the Group 2 Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) won by fellow Railway hope Conservatorium, Kerrific improved last Saturday.
Handling the short seven day back-up they held off a class field to win the Group 3 R.J. Peters Stakes (1500m) by a quarter length over Elite Belle, fourth emergency for the Railway.
Now connections are hoping the Bruce Watkins and Gary Hitchcock-trained horse can improve again when they make their elite level debut.
“He’s so consistent and it was a huge effort to carry 59.5kg and win last week,” Watkins told Thoroughbred Breeders WA.
“We’ve had to rush him into the Railway but he pulled up well and is looking for 1600 metres.”
If successful they will become just the third horse in history to complete the RJ Peters Stakes – Railway Stakes double joining El Presidente (2007) and Northerly (2000).
For their maiden Group 1 run Kerrific has drawn barrier 11, which will become gate nine if all four emergencies come out of the Railway Stakes field, and drops back to just 54.5kg.
They will be ridden by Daniel Staeck who partners with them for the first time since their big one and three quarter length win in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) back in early June where they overcame barrier 16 of 16.
Staeck, replaceing Peter Hall who jumps off Kerrific to ride the defending Railway Stakes Mr Moet, meanwhile shoots for back-to-back victories in the classic having ridden Mr Moet 12 months ago.