A standout performer over the 2013 Perth racing calendar, trainer Fred Kersley is hopeful of a return to competitive form for four-year-old Ihtsahymn in Saturday’s featured Group 2 CB Cox Stakes (2100m) at Ascot Racecourse.
Completing an exceptional run of form over the 2013 summer with victory in the CB Cox Stakes, leading to his crowning as WA Horse of The Year, Ihtsahymn has struggled to find his winning edge over four starts this time in; beating just one runner home in the Group 3 Prince Of Wales Stakes (1200m) first-up before placing fifth in the Group 2 Waroa-Lee Steere Stakes (1400m) and tenth in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) on November 22nd.
Slightly more pleased with a strong finish when eighth in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) last time out, Kersley told the West Australian he is pleased with the allocated of a central barrier for Ihtsahymn in the 2014 CB Cox Stakes, but concedes he will need to find an extra gear if to finish in contention.
“He’s clearly struggling to find his best form,” Kersley said.
“We live in hope in this game.
“His last run was reasonably good. He made up a lot of late ground.
“His trackwork suggests he’ll run a good race and the barrier certainly does help.
“He’s proven over ground and the 2100 should work in his favour.
“It’s just a question whether he can get back to his best.”
Claiming seven wins and a further three minor places from just 19 competitive starts so far, Ihtsahymn finished seventh in the Listed Belgravia Stakes (1200m) at the beginning of his impressive 2013 campaign; progressing to sixth in the Listed Fairetha Stakes (1400m) before taking out each of the Group 2 W.A. Guineas (1600m), Kingston Town Classic and CB Cox Stakes in succession.
Returning in autumn this year in similarly impressive form, the Ihtiram gelding ran second in each of the Listed Lex Piper Stakes (1600m) and Listed J.C. Roberts Stakes (1800m) first-up before returning to the winner’s circle in the Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m) on March 29th; closing his campaign second to Respondent in the Group 2 W.A.T.C. Derby (2400m).