Record interstate influx tackles Winterbottom

5 min read

By Bren O'Brien

A record-equalling six interstate raiders will be looking to take the Perth sprinting riches for a fourth straight year in Saturday's G1 Crown Perth Winterbottom S. and at least one of them will have substantial local support.

Last year's winner Viddora (I Am Invincible), currently a clear favourite, heads the raiding party and she is supported by five other Victorian-trained horses which make up 40 per cent of the 15-horse field.

Proven sprint performers Voodoo Lad (I Am Invincible) and Malaguerra (Magnus) have made the trip and are joined by up-and-comers Ashlor (Hard Spun {USA}), I'll Have a Bit (Smart Missile) and Runson (Delzao).

A win in the Winterbottom S. would be particularly special for Malaguerra's owner Bruno Miccalizzi, the one-time Fremantle fisherman turned Group 1 winning owner.

Malaguerra is named after a Sicilian warrior, and the nickname of Miccalizzi's late father Gaetano, and with that in mind, success in his home state on Saturday would be particularly sweet for the owner, according to Gelagotis.

"They are tough races to win. You don't come over here as a visitor and expect easy pickings." - Trainer, Peter Gelagotis

"In life we have dreams and you pursue those dreams and this is obviously a dream of Bruno's and particularly this horse holds a special place in his heart because it’s named after his Dad," Gelagotis told TAB Radio.

"But they are tough races to win. You don't come over here as a visitor and expect easy pickings. There are some serious locals here."

Owner of Malaguerra, Bruno Miccalizzi (left) with Scott Brown

Malaguerra, already a winner of the Goodwood and the VRC Sprint Classic, was fifth in this race two years ago. He returned from a near 12-month long layoff in last month's Manikato S. before winning a recent trial at Cranbourne.

Gelagotis said he had deliberately targeted this race as he felt it was the right path for the 7-year-old to get another top-level win.

"He seems like he is healthy and well, he's travelled good. He's coping well," Gelagotis said.

"He's ticked all the boxes, everything is schmiko. We’ve got three or four days of water to go under the bridge. Hopefully he keeps doing the right thing and if he can present with an ounce of luck be competitive."

Malaguerra worked with Winterbottom S. rival Valour Road on Tuesday morning, and pleased his trainer.

"It’s work that was satisfactory going into a Group 1 knowing their ability," he said.

First time for McCarthy

Ashlor will be Wangaratta trainer Dan McCarthy's first-ever Group 1 runner and comes off a win at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day.

McCarthy, speaking to RSN, said that with Ashlor having now won nine races from 22 starts it had become very hard to find the right races for him and if he was ever going to have a shot at the top level, this was it.

Dan McCarthy (right) with one of Ashlor's connections. Ashlor will be his first ever runner in a G1 race

"Over the time, because he's been so consistent, his rating has been sneaking up and sneaking up. It just becomes a little bit more difficult to place him, especially given he doesn’t handle the Flemington straight," he said.

"I guess if he is ever going to be aimed at a Group 1 weight for age, it is going to be in a race like the Winterbottom. We decided to aim him for it and have a crack."

Bit back at G1 level

McCarthy travelled Ashlor over with one of his rivals in the race, the John McArdle trained I'll Have a Bit, last Sunday.

It will be I'll Have a Bit's second shot at the top level, having ran third in the G1 Goodwood in Adelaide in the autumn and her trainer feels she can measure up. However, unlike Ashlor, she has not been a prolific winner, with just two wins from 16 starts.

"Fortunately the two races she has won have been a Group 2 and Group 3," McArdle said. "She's Group 1 and Group 2 placed. She's a good mare."

"We missed the spring with a bit of an injury and it’s been a bit of a rushed preparation to get her ready for this. But whatever she does on Saturday, she'll go to the paddock and we’ll see a bigger, stronger mare in the autumn."

Purple patch leads to G1

A career-best patch of form convinced trainers Leon and Troy Corstens to have a shot at a Group 1 with Runson. He broke the 1200m track record at Moonee Valley two starts back and then ran third to Osborne Bulls (Street Cry {Ire}) in the G2 Linlithgow S. at Flemington.

"He has gone above and beyond expectations and we are really pleased to have him over there," Troy Corstens told

"I honestly didn't think Runson would be up to it [at the start of the campaign] and I'm not going to say it's what we planned all along because it's not."

"The opportunity was there and the owners have backed me and said have a crack." - Troy Corstens

"To be honest we brought him in at the start of the preparation and the expectations were to get him to a couple of city races."

"The opportunity was there [for the Winterbottom] and the owners have backed me and said have a crack."

"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity, we've got nothing to lose and when you're going into a Group 1 like that you're in a pretty good space."