Top Perth jockey Steven Parnham has ended days of speculation in choosing three year old Ihtsahymn as his mount in the Group 1 $500,000 TAB Touch – Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on Saturday.
Parnham had the choice between the Fred Kersley trainer three year old or two time Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God.
The top local jockey has been the regular rider for both gallopers and said it was a painstaking decision to choose Ihtsahymn over his long-time favourite Playing God.
“It’s the toughest decision of my racing career to get off Playing God,” Parnham told The West Australian.
“He’s been my best winner and has given me the opportunity to ride in top Melbourne carnival races.
“But Ihtsahymn is a very good three-year-old who continues to improve. He’ll have a big advantage with only 52kg on Saturday.”
Parnham has ridden Ihtsahymn exclusively and has recorded four wins from eight starts including his last start win in the Group 2 $400,000 Sky Racing-W.A. Guineas (1600m) at Ascot on November 23.
The Ihtiram gelding will be trying to repeat the efforts of Playing God who won both the W.A. Guineas and the Kingston Town Classic in the same year in 2010 and Parnham thinks he has a great chance of claiming the double with only 52kgs on Saturday.
Parnham was aboard Playing God when he scored his historic double and also steered him to his second Kingston Town Classic victory the following year.
He has also been his rider for his four runs this campaign which included a last start fifth to Luckygray in the Group 1 $1m Carlton Draught – Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot last Saturday week and a win three starts back in the Group 3 $125,000 Northerly Stakes (1400m) at Ascot on October 19.
Paul Harvey has been given the job of guiding Playing God to his third Kingston Town Classic victory for trainer Neville Parnham, Steven’s father.
Neville Parnham accepted Steven’s decision to go for the inform three year old who gets a distinct advantage on the weight-the-age scale, but said that Playing God is at the peak of his form and loves racing over the 1800m.
“I understand Steven’s decision to select the lighter weighted horse,” Neville Parnham said.
“But Playing God is in peak form and he shows his best over 1800 metres at weight-for-age.”
Kersley is also upbeat about the chances of Ihtsahymn as he tackles weight-for-age for the first time following his win in the W.A. Guineas.
“He’s since worked well and is holding form,” Kersley said.
“Ihtsahymn has only limited experience and will be up against a top field. But the horse will have a weight which I don’t think he’ll get again for a long time.”
Last start Railway Stakes winner Luckygray heads the market order for the Kingston Town Classic at $2.60 with Mr Moet at $4.40 while Ihtsahymn is marked on the third line of betting at $5.50 with Playing God an $8.50 chance.