Top Perth galloper and Melbourne Group 3 winner Watermans Bay is unlikely to travel interstate this spring – summer season thanks to a juicy injection of prizemoney into the upcoming WA features at the end of the year.
The Dan Morton-trained Eternity Range gelding is almost certain to stay put in Perth for his next campaign targeting the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in November at Ascot Racecourse.
Watermans Bay was runner-up in last year’s Winterbottom Stakes, sponsored by Crown Perth, when beaten only a neck by Jim Taylor’s classy Magnus mare Magnifisio.
He is set to get another shot at the Perth Summer Racing Carnival sprint major however with connections keen to keep the horse, who is on the verge of joining the $1 million club having earned $990,700 in prizemoney to date, racing in front of the home crowds next prep.
After the Winterbottom second Watermans Bay won his next start when turning the tables on Magnifisio in the Group 3 AJ Scahill Stakes (1400m) with Tommy Berry in the saddle back at Ascot.
He returned this February with one run at home finishing second to Black Heart Bart in the Listed Cyril Flower Stakes (1200m) as a 6/1 shot before his trip to Melbourne chasing autumn carnival glory.
His first run back in Victoria since a sixth down the Flemington straight in November last year was a fifth at the same track behind super sprinter Lankan Rupee in a small six-horse field for the Group 1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (1000m).
Disappointment followed next time out in mid-March when he was outclassed running dead last and failing to beat home any of his eight rivals in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) won by Chris Waller’s classy colt Brazen Beau.
A step back in class out of Group 1 company however at Caulfield in early April unlocked the Perth raider’s winning potential and Watermans Bay ended his autumn with a victory over The Peak in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m).
This year’s Winterbottom Stakes is now worth $1 million in total prizemoney and that’s enough to for owner John Molloy to not be tempted to travel with Watermans Bay, especially with the Morton suggesting the galloper could be stretched out to a mile and above.
That brings him into contention for the two other Perth majors next time in, the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) and the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) also both now worth $1 million.
“Dan and his foreman Vince are convinced Watermans Bay will now run a strong mile so the Railway may come into the picture,” Molloy told The West Australian this week.
“There is a terrible lot of value in the races at home and there is a good chance he will stay here.
“I am yet to discuss it with Danny, and the trainer has the last word on the horse’s program.”