Gary Crispe looks at the Railway Stakes on Saturday.
"Now just 12 months down the track Ranger will now meet Luckygray an incredible eight kilograms better at the weights, which seems quite unjustified..."
First contested over the Derby distance of 12 furlongs (2400m) prior to 1951, the Group 1 Railway Stakes remains the key highlight of the Perth Summer Racing Carnival.
This year's renewal will give last year's successor, Luckygray, an opportunity to rewrite the history books as his aims to set a new modern day weight-carrying record and remains in line to become only the third horse in the race's history to win it in consecutive years.
A controversial winner of the feature event last year when awarded the race on protest, Luckygray currently holds sway with the bookmakers, however given he has been allotted the topweight of 58kg it appears last year's favourite Ranger is clearly the horse to beat on Timeform weight adjusted rating. The son of Testa Rossa appears very well placed down on the minimum with 53kg.
Last year Ranger started the race a $4.50 favourite when allotted 56kg, three kilograms more than both Luckygray and He's Remarkable. Suffering severe interference in running, Ranger proceeded to stick on well to finish sixth. Now just 12 months down the track he will now meet Luckygray an incredible eight kilograms better at the weights which seems quite unjustified given his form following the feature has been quite sound.
Following his performance in the Railway Stakes Ranger went on to fill the minor placings in both the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) and Group 2 CB Cox Stakes (2100m).
While he did subsequently fail to fire in Melbourne over the Autumn carnival, finishing unplaced in all three starts, to his defence he was finishing behind the likes of talented gallopers Manighar, Lucas Cranach and Green Moon.
Returning home for a spell after he finished 13th in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes (1600m) back in March, Ranger has been brought along nicely by his trainer Grant Williams and has proven quite impressive in his three trials leading into Saturday's race most recently scoring by three-and-a-half lengths at Belmont over 1400m.
While barrier trials can never really equate to match fitness, Ranger boasts an impressive fresh record having only missed the money once collecting two wins and one minor placing.
Drawn ideally in barrier 10, Ranger rates three pounds better than his nearest rival on weight adjusted ratings and a repeat of his master figure of 116 achieved in last year's Kingston Town Classic would rule out any possibilities of another horse beating him home.
Since the modern day running of the Group 1 feature it has proven quite a graveyard for the topweights with Sniper's Bullet remaining the only horse to carry more than 56kg to victory when he proved successful in carrying 56.5kg in 2009.
Adding to that the fact that since its inception in 1894 only two horses have ever won the race in consecutive years with Tudor Mak proving successful in 1966 and 1967 and Miss Muffett in 1987 and 1988 it appears Luckygray has the deck heavily stacked against him if he is to salute this afternoon.
Following a very different path to which he took when proving successful in the event last year, Luckygray restamped himself as one of the leading contenders when he came from near last to flash home down the outside to score with ease in the Group 2 Waroa-Lee Stakes (1400m) last start at Ascot.
While many questioned the son of Bradbury's Luck form following his failed attempt to compete in Melbourne over the Spring Carnival, he quickly silenced his critics when he recorded a Timeform figure of 118 just one pound shy of his master rating of 119 achieved in the Group 3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) last preparation.
While that performance does give all the right indications that he is close to his best, he would still need to improve a further eight pounds and record a career peak figure of 126 if he is likely to prove successful this afternoon.
To put into perspective, if successful in achieving that figure Luckygray's victory would rival that of Shoot Out in this year's Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m), it would of seen him comfortably salute in this year's Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) and would see him sit just two pounds shy of More Joyous's emphatic triumph in last year's Group 1 Doncaster (1600m).
Now not one to say this achievement is impossible because he is still lightly raced and it is likely that we are yet to see the best of him, however at his current price he is clearly under the odds.
Group 1 Epsom Handicap winner Fat Al remains the clear class runner in the field and will lead the interstate charge as he looks to bounce back to form following his disappointing performance in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes where he finished twelfth beaten six-and-a-half lengths.
Coming into that race of a seven week freshen up, some excuses can be made for the son of Al Maher as he was always going to be a shade questionable over a tough run mile after such a lengthy break. One can also not forget that he flopped severely in the lead up to the Epsom Handicap when going down as the long-odds on favourite at Rosehill in the Group 2 Shannon Stakes (1500m).
He unlike a majority of the field remains one of the few horses in the race still on the upward spiral and is open to plenty of improvement following his latest performance.
With a career record that stands at 11 starts for six wins and three minor placings one would be naive to consider him not a leading chance in this afternoon's event.
Leading Sydney jockey, Nash Rawiller, reunites with the four-year-old following his suspension and if able to reproduce his performance when saluting in the Epsom Handicap he would prove very hard to beat.
Kiwi Raider Wall Street has resumed in great order this time in and cannot be dismissed with connections electing to keep him to the mile this time in.
Resuming with a solid seventh placing in the Group 2 Memsie Stakes (1400m), Wall Street proceeded to finish a close third behind the in-form Fawkner before a luckless fifth in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) last start with many arguing he was entitled to finish a lot closer after being chopped out in the straight.
Yes he has drawn poorly and yes it has been a long time between drinks however you can never fully dismiss a multiple Group 1 winner and given Snipers Bullet saluted in this event three years ago when breaking a two-and-a-half year long drought anything is possible.
Of the local hopes last year's Kingston Town Classic winner Playing God appears one of the better chances at an each-way quote despite his unflattering performance in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) last start.
While his best form has clearly not been seen over in the East, the son of Blackfriars appears to grow another leg when racing at Ascot having only ever missed the money twice in twelve attempts, notching up six wins and four minor placings.
On weight adjusted ratings he sits on par with Fat Al and although he is yet to perform anywhere near his best this time in, his form in Group 1 company is quite impressive having collected two wins and five minor placings from 14 attempts.
In addition to that, he has never missed the money when racing fourth up so you can expect his trainer Neville Parnham will have him right at his peak for this event and must be kept safe.
Enjoy a fascinating Railway Stakes.
Off Time: 08.35 GMT
Recommendation: Back Ranger @ $6.60