Take a chance with Phineas
A FINE gathering of talent, from four-year-olds to a battle-hardened nine-year-old, litters the Ash Wednesday Trophy at 1,300 metres, a distance which should ensure a truly run race among the principals.
A quintet of the 14 runners declared last raced on January 27. Led by second-place PROLIFIC PRINCESS, they were all trampled by out-of-class ORPHEUS in the A. E. 'Billy' Williams Memorial at 1,400 metres, LOTTERY TICKET included.
Another set of returnees, from the following week, are the stablemates RAS EMANUEL and PRINCESS EMANUELLE, who finished heads on for second and third, respectively, caught at the wire by UNCLE TAF storming home at 1,000 metres straight. GARY GLITTER placed fifth in that race, as well, and would have preferred the round course.
Throw the up-in-class TWILIGHT DREAMS into the mix, after completing back-to-back wins with a mile victory on January 31, never mind the company, then rub the proven class of ANOTHER BULLET and PHINEAS into the batter for one heck of a head-scratcher for punters.
Though recent form is always a go-to, back class is undeniable, making nine-year-old PHINEAS a most dangerous contender. Reprogrammed by trainer Andrew McDonald off a near two-month lay-up, the dark bay gelding has been moving like a youngster at exercise, clocking 1:01.0 for a five-furlong spin on the round course last Thursday morning. The previous Saturday, he galloped three furlongs in 35.1.
Working as good as any and with Aaron Chatrie retained to ride, a fit PHINEAS can certainly put away this bunch if he reports anywhere close to the form he showed in last August's Seek Exercise Book Trophy, a Grade Two race, in which he finished third, beaten by CHACE THE GREAT and CHOO CHOO BLUE.
After that run, PHINEAS failed to fire in three races, exhibiting signs of unsoundness. However, his two speed gallops for the Ash Wednesday Trophy were both bullet works, indicating he is sound and ready to take on his younger rivals.
A strong middle-distance closer, PHINEAS placed second to BUZZ NIGHTMARE, as a seven-year-old, in the 2016 Gold Cup, 11 days after he was caught at the wire, carrying 57.0 kilos, by then four-year-old HOUDINI'S MAGIC, going 1,500 metres.
Sitting at 52.5 kilos with LOTTERY TICKET, almost level with TWILIGHT DREAMS (52.0,) only two kilos heavier than PRINCESS EMANUELLE and PROLIFIC PRINCESS (50.5 kilos each), while getting weight from ANOTHER BULLET (57.0) and RAS EMANUEL (56.5), PHINEAS is certainly worth a wager.