The final Australian Group 1 race of the year takes place at Ascot on Saturday with the $1 million Kingston Town Classic (1800m) attracting a field of 16.
Here is our runner-by-runner guide
1. GAILO CHOP (12) – Matthew Williams, John Allen, 59kg
The nine-year-old has only beaten a handful of runners home at his last three starts but hasn’t been suited on any of those occasions. He led in a swoopers race last start in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m), the start prior at The Valley he didn’t lead and worked too hard through the middle stages of the race and in the Caulfield Stakes he just went too slowly in front. His career PB is over 1800m and If Allen keeps him rolling in front, he should give a good sight.
2. GATTING (9) – Darren Mcauliffe, Lucy Warwick, 59kg
He hit the line nicely last start in the Railway Stakes (1600m), running the second-fastest last 200m of the race but just didn’t get his right race shape. I’m expecting a stronger early tempo here and that should suit him but he does cop L.Warwick, looks about his right price.
3. TALLY (8) – James Cummings, Martin Harley, 59kg
He went from 2000m to 1400m last start here at Ascot but D.Oliver went on board and he was very well-backed ($5.00 into $3.80). He ran poorly and there didn’t seem to be too many excuses. I couldn’t have him here.
4. STAR EXHIBIT (14) – Adam Durrant, Peter Hall, 59kg
He beat Gatting first-up in the Lee Steere (1400m) then had to do too much work through the middle stages of the race last start in the Railway Stakes and weakened late. He will likely be back/wide again and I’d wait for him to get out in distance.
5. BEST OF DAYS (2) – James Cummings, Brad Rawiller, 59kg
The six-year-old gelding is clearly the best chance of the older horses. He was unsuited in an on-paced dominated Sir Rupert Clarke before running down the track in a very high rating Epsom Handicap. He produced some of the best closing sectionals of the race three starts ago in the Crystal Mile at The Valley, finishing 0.2 lengths behind Chief Ironside and Cliff’s Edge, beating home Pacodali. The wet track didn’t suit him in the G1 Cantala and he was four-wide the trip and battled on well. I didn’t think he was suited last start in the Railway Stakes but still looked the winner before Regal Power ran over the top. I’m confident Rawiller will use barrier two and be right on speed and at his current price, he looks a good bet.
6. ACHERNAR STAR (16) – Simon A Miller, Paul Harvey, 59kg
I thought he ran well to finish fourth in the Railway Stakes and his personal best run over the last two years was over 1800m here at Ascot. The negatives, it’s a poor map from barrier 16 and he goes D.Oliver to P.Harvey.
7. PACODALI (13) – Lindsay Smith, Dean Yendall, 59kg
He put the writing on the wall three starts ago in the Crystal Mile at The Valley, as he savaged the line running some outstanding closing sectionals. He then lugged 62kg at Kyneton and just weakened late before dominating the G3 Ecliplice Stakes (1800m) at Sandown and defeated the Charlie Appleby horse Setting Sail. It was an impressive win but the leader did walk early, running 13.4L below class benchmark to the 600m. Dean Yendall will have some decisions to make from barrier 13. He pushed forward and sat outside the leader last start but as mentioned, that was a very slow early tempo.
8. REGAL POWER (15) – Grant & Alana Williams, Damien Oliver, 58.5kg
William Pike went on board and the blinkers went on for the first time in the Railway Stakes and that was enough for me to tip him on top. Surprisingly, he didn’t run a career PB but still got the job done, running eight-lengths above benchmark while also running the fastest last 200m and 400m of the race to get over the top of Best Of Days. He maps to get a similar run in transit on Saturday and loses nothing getting Damien Oliver on board. Pike has sided with Tuscan Queen and than in itself, has swayed me away from Regal Power.
9. THE VELVET KING (10) – Darren Mcauliffe, Mitchell Pateman, 58.5kg
He led the Railway Stakes last start at a tempo that was three-lengths quicker than G1 average and not surprisingly he weakened late. I think he pushes forward from barrier 10 but I doubt he leads this field. He started $5.50 vs Best Of Days and Regal Power, who both started longer prices. On the SP profile, I have to have something on him at over double the odds of the other two I mentioned.
10. PLATOON (7) – Neville Parnham, Brad Parnham, 58.5kg
He charged home for third in the Railway Stakes last start and maps well from barrier seven. We’re starting to see a trend with this market, It’s looking away from the Railway form and looking for some different form.
11. MISSISSIPPI DELTA (6) – Grant & Alana Williams, Chris Parnham, 57kg
She was a savage drifter first-up in the R.J Peters Stakes (1500m), she opened $2.80 and drifted to as much as $8.50 at the jump. Despite that she produced some good closing sectionals to win.
12. DIG DEEP (5) – Daniel & Ben Pearce, Joseph Azzopardi, 52kg
I’m against the W.A Guineas form, as it was a really slowly run race and I don’t think it’s the right lead-up for this race. Having said that, he drops right down in the weight.
13. JERICHO MISSILE (11) – David Harrison, Peter Knuckey, 52kg
He hasn’t broken class benchmark in his last four starts and I couldn’t be with him here.
14. SUPERSTORM (4) – Grant & Alana Williams, Shuan McGruddy, 52kg
He started $2 vs Kay Cee ($21) on debut at Belmont before going down as a $1.20 fav in maiden grade but produced a big close (7.1L above BM last 600m) to win a Class 1 at Ascot before running fifth in the W.A Guineas. I am against that form but he couldn’t have run much better with the early tempo, he savaged the line running the fastest last 200m of the race and gets the blinkers on first time here.
15. KAY CEE (1) – Neville Parnham, Steven Parnham, 50kg
She hasn’t done anything wrong in her career but will likely be behind Tuscan Queen and Superstorm in the run from barrier one and I’d rather be with the other three-year-olds.
16. TUSCAN QUEEN (3) – Grant & Alana Williams, William Pike, 50kg
The favourite Tuscan Queen profiles similarly to Arcadia Queen, who won this race last year and the more I look at the race, the more I’m finding more reasons why Tuscan Queen is clearly the horse to beat. She has slowly progressed through her preparation, running a figure of 2.5L below BM on debut, 0.6L above BM second-up, 4.5L above BM third-up and was unable to run a good figure last start, as she got way too far back off a slow tempo. She really attacked the line, running the 24th-fastest last 600m of the meeting, the 9th-fastest last 400m of the meeting and the fastest last 200m of the meeting. Pike sticks and with luck from barrier three, she looks the winner.