Seven days can be a long time in racing. Especially when discussing the prospects of eastern-states horses in Western Australian Group 1 races.
Last week this column did its best to quell any interest in Victorian or New South Wales horses in the Railway Stakes owing to their poor record of late, a trend that continued with the win by Real Power.
There won’t be any repeat of that ahead of Saturday’s $1 million G1 Winterbottom Stakes, which has been dominated of late by non-WA horses.
Starting from 2008, when Takeover Target edged out Apache Cat in the stirring duel that helped elevate the race’s status, particularly on the Pacific Ocean side of the continent, eight of the past 11 editions have been won by horses trained east of the Nullarbor.
Two of those have gone to Victoria; Voodoo Lad and Ortensia, who won it as a Group 2 race in 2009 when trained by Tony Noonan, and again in 2011 when trained by New South Wales-based Paul Messara.
Takedown provided another win for NSW in 2016 and Buffering scored a couple of wins for Queensland in 2013 and 2015 while Viddora landed a blow for South Australia two years ago.
James Cummings trio Trekking, Home Of The Brave and Viridine, dual G1 winner Hey Doc and Ciaron Maher and David Eustace pair Spirit Of Valour and Dubious are the eastern-staters engaged in this year’s race. New Zealand is also represented, by the Tony Pike-trained Endless Drama.
Voodoo Lad last year continued the trend of the modern Winterbottom being one for the ‘oldies’.
From 1993 to 2007, eight of the 15 winners were yet to celebrate their fifth birthday. One of those was 2002 winner Hardrada, who is the most recent of the six three-year-olds to have won, but the only one since 1976. Victorian colt Dubious is looking to join him this year.
Since then, nine of the 11 winners have been five or older, including a couple of nine-year-olds (Takeover Target and Hadabeclorka), an eight-year-old (Buffering) and seven-year-old Voodoo Lad.
Voodoo Lad did overcome one thing not many have been able to achieve of late; a double-digit alley.
Seven of the past 30 Winterbottom winners have started from barrier 10 or wider in the past 30 years, but just two of them have come in the past 13 years.
Only three in that time have started from the inside three barriers as well, though, with barriers four to nine providing nine of the winners in that time.
Voodoo Lad was attached to another double-digits link that is not often seen in a Winterbottom; the winner starting at $10 or greater.
He was a $13 chance, joining Hardrada ($41) as the only winners at double-figure odds in the past 15 years. In that time, eight favourites have scored, the shortest of which was Marasco at $1.80.
The Verdict: Sydney 5YO TREKKING is the only eastern-stater at single-figures odds in this year’s race and, thankfully, has drawn barrier four.