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R&S G1 Preview: Winterbottom Stakes

The Winterbottom Stakes is the second of three Group 1 highlights of The Pinnacles and headlines Day 3.

There hasn't really been a dominant sprinter in Perth in twenty years and even then, to call the 02/03 Winterbottom winner Hardrada a dominant horse is a stretch. He was a solid horse but in a time where fewer Eastern horses travelled over and the Winterbottom was still a Group 2, he was rated to a peak of 116 with Timeform.

For that reason, the easy comparison to Hardrada today is Elite Street, who has been the benchmark in the sprinting ranks out West for the last couple of years, winning the 2020 Winterbottom with a peak of 117.

Since then, he's run in Perth nine times and run between 114-116 on five of those occasions and seemingly the Winterbottom this year revolves around that benchmark- if you run over 116, you're a good chance of winning, and the recent history backs that up.

2021 Graceful Girl 116
2020 Elite Street 117
2019 Hey Doc 122
2018 Voodoo Lad 118
2017 Viddora 115
2016 Takedown 119

As seen in this snapshot of recent winners, the median winning number works out to be 117.83 and in a year where we know the level of the locals, I'd be confident you'd need to run to at least that to be winning. 

This'll Testya took out the Group 3 Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m) on Saturday, a key lead up to the Winterbottom in two weeks' time and likely the last run for most horses, with only the Listed Jungle Mist Classic for F&M and a 5 f 72+ handicap available this Saturday.

The seven-year-old is going better than ever, posting a new peak of 109 in the Colonel Reeves on Saturday, with Red Can Man heading the race at 113 under the weight conditions. 

The form of the Colonel Reeves runs true enough due to Red Can Man, who has run his usual race- he's equalled his peak of 113, a mark he's run to thrice in his last six starts. 

The favoured runners, Elite Street and Miss Conteki, got back in the field and never really threatened, both working home well from too far back.

Miss Conteki is a flashy horse who will always have her supporters, but she's now had 17 starts and is at an established level. It's a very good level and she's won 11 races, her peak figure actually coming two starts ago when running down This'll Testya over 5 f, running to 110+.

That + often signifies that the horse can go better due to running big late sectionals, but when you're getting back to last in nearly every race, justifying that + is going to be tricky. 

That covers pretty much all of the local hopes in the market and so far, only Elite Street has a figure to his name that would win a Winterbottom. It's a touch worrying that he's run well below his best first given his last two first up runs have been his usual 116 and 115. 

Is there the potential Dan Morton has deliberately left a bit in the tank and is targeting the new 7 f Gold Rush, worth the same as the Winterbottom at $1.5 million? 

That leaves us with the raiders, and we've got a fairly strong contingent.

Rothfire, Paulele, Vilana, The Astrologist and Beau Rossa are all lining up and coming through some strong races.

Beau Rossa has run to 118 once when an unlucky second to Behemoth in the 2021 Memsie and did return well, running 114 at Flemington. If you wipe his last campaign, he's not hopeless at long odds.

The Astrologist has a peak of 117, but if you look away from his favoured Flemington, his rating drops to 112. He's racing well and is honest as the Perth day is long, but I wouldn't want to be backing him to win. 

Paulele has the highest recent rating in the field, having run to 121 despite copping a whip to the face when winning the Schillaci. He also ran to 121 last preparation when second to Mazu in the Doomben 10,000. 

If he runs to that level he'll very likely win, but his last two runs have been poor, albeit with excuses. The Manikato failure was on a very testing track before a bunched finish behind Roch 'N' Horse in the Champions Sprint, running 11th but beaten 2.5 lengths in his first run down the straight.

Rothfire also has a recent rating of 120, winning the McEwen first up over 5 f. He basically crossed the line with Paulele in the Moir and beat him home in the Manikato and Champions Sprint, running to 116 in the latter. 

Rothfire is currently $5 for the Winterbottom and Paulele at $11 but based off their head-to-head SP's you can make a case for Paulele:

  Rothfire Paulele
Champions $41 $41
Manikato $6.50 $3
Moir $3.10 $4.40
Kingsford-Smith $19 $6
Doomben 10k $16 $11

If you convert that to 100%, the market has Rothfire 42.2% Paulele 57.8% compared to their current head to head market of Rothfire 68.75% vs Paulele 31.25%, a decent turn around!

Vilana is the new kid on the block and looks perhaps the one best set up for this having only had four runs this preparation and coming off a peak performance in The Hunter at Newcastle. 

He ran to 119 with Timeform there following his 115 in the Silver Eagle with an excusable effort in the Golden Eagle, 7 1⁄2 f from the carpark perhaps a bridge too far.

That 119 is the best last start rating coming into this field and whilst he had every favour at Newcastle, he seems more likely to run up to it than the likes of Paulele and Rothfire are to run to their best. 

The draws do look fairly important with Rothfire mapping for a sweet run in behind the speed but the pace looks very fast with horses that like to lead drawn all over the track so you'd expect everything to get their chance. 

In fact, the last four winners of the race have started from barrier 12 or higher and not since Ortensia (b2) in 2011 has there been a winner inside barrier seven. 

I'm happy enough to back the R&S power ranking's leading trainer, James Cummings, to have his two spot on and ready to go for Saturday and will be equal staking Paulele and Vilana, with Beau Rossa a sneaky chance at 30s to round out the trifecta.

 


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