Boom sprinter State Solicitor scored a miraculous victory in today’s Group 3 Colonel Reeves Stakes (1100m) to stamp his claims as WA’s best Winterbottom Stakes contender.
The raging $1.40 favourite was in trouble when held up badly for clear running on the inside rail early in the straight.
However, champion jockey William Pike found a narrow gap passing the 150m and lifted State Solicitor to a short neck win.
Caipirinha was a brave second after being trapped three-wide throughout and Durendal was a close third.
Pike thought his chances were shot when he was searching for a run.
“It was pretty much a whole race of panic for me,” Pike said.
“I thought the race was over. I didn’t think I was going to get out in time, but credit to the horse.”
State Solicitor, a winner at nine of 12 starts, is the $4.60 second favourite for the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) on December 2.
“I think it’s safe to say he’s the best of the local brigade and if he gets a nice run in transit, he’ll take a stack of beating,” Pike said.
State Solicitor was the third leg of a treble for Pike, who won earlier races on The River and La Mouline.
Tough filly Art Series proved her class with a thrilling win in today’s Group 3 WA Champion Fillies Stakes (1600m).
The Darren McAuliffe-trained three-year-old, starting at $8 and ridden by Joseph Azzopardi, was lifted to a nose victory in a tight finish.
Private Dancer ($41), who hit the lead early in the straight, was second ahead the $1.65 favourite Mikimoto.
The previously unbeaten Mikimoto loomed as the winner out wide, but was unable to reel in her rivals when beaten half a length.
Sophia’s Secret, the $6 second favourite, was scratched after she was unable to be loaded in the barriers.
Art Series broke through after placings in the Bunbury 3YO Classic (1000m), Listed Belgravia Stakes (1200m) and Listed Burgess Queen Stakes (1400m) this spring.
“I’m very, very happy,” McAuliffe said. “We’ll see her in the Guineas.”
The Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m) is run next Saturday.
Azzopardi picked up the ride on Monday, replacing the suspended Lee Newman, and scored his first Group victory in the process.
“Gee she was tough,” Azzopardi said. “It was a messy race. I got a check on the corner, she picked herself up and dug deep and attacked the line well.”
Properantes defied his $21 quote to score an upset win in the Group 3 RJ Peters Stakes (1500m).
The Colin Webster-trained gelding ran on from third on the turn for jockey Peter Knuckey to score by three-quarters of a length.
Royal Star, the $3.60 second favourite, charged home from near last for second ahead of the $3 favourite Variation, who wasn’t suited by the lack of speed when running on from last.
The winner of the Peters Stakes is exempt from the ballot for next week’s Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m), but Properantes wasn’t nominated for the race.
“He’s not in the Railway. He’s a Group 3 horse – that’s his limit,” he said.
“I was very very confident he would go well. He’s been the most honest horse and he’s a very, very sound horse. All he had to do was be ridden perfectly like Peter did today.”