Miller playing with full 2-year-old deck

4 min read

By Bren O'Brien

Leading WA trainer Simon Miller is finding it hard to separate his three leading chances heading into Perth's major 2-year-old race, the G2 Karrakatta Plate, on April 6.

Miller, who won the race last year with Valour Road (Frost Giant {USA}), has Rio Del Mar (Magnus) and Amelia's On Fire (Sizzling) headed to the Karrakatta for prolific owner Peter Walsh, along with promising filly Niccovi (Nicconi).

Simon Miller

Rio Del Mar progressed from her second placing on debut in the Listed Supremacy S. to claim the G3 Gimcrack S. last Saturday, beating both of her stablemates.

Amelia's On Fire, impressive on debut last month, finished fourth after sitting on the pace, while Niccovi, also an Ascot winner at her previous start, settled last before charging home for sixth, beaten less than two lengths by her stablemates.

Miller told TABradio that all three had impressed him on Saturday and barriers for the 1200m race would be key to all of their chances.

"They were all brilliant, I couldn’t be happier. Our stable is very lucky, we've got three horses who can win it," he said. "The barriers will play a major part this year, because it is just so open."

Rio Del Mar

"Jericho Missile (Smart Missile) and Prim and Proper (Alfred Nobel {Ire}), they are unbelievably good horses too. There are about five or six genuine chances."

The one tactic change he did forecast was that Amelia's On Fire would look to lead outright in the Karrakatta Plate.

"We would have been better rolling along, and we’ll do that in the Karrakatta," he said. "Niccovi was outstanding from the wide gate with the change of tactics, so if we happen to draw sticky, we can revert to that."

Niccovi, the highest priced filly at last year's Magic Millions Perth Yearling Sale at $200,000, was runner-up to Jericho Missile in the Magic Millions 2YO Classic at Pinjarra before beating Prim And Proper at Ascot.

Her dam Fully Chargeable (Charge Forward) is a half-sister to Group 3 winner Ability (Reward For Effort). Amelia's On Fire and Rio de Mar both came out of the 2017 Australian Broodmare and Weanling Sale, with Miller paying $100,000 for the former and just $20,000 for the latter.

Amelia's On Fire

Amelia's On Fire's dam Zugat (King Cugat {USA}) is a half-sister to 2-year-old Listed winner Unison (Marauding {NZ}), while Rio de Mar's dam Costanera (Encosta de Lago) is a three-quarter sister to Group 1 winner Titanic Jack (Encosta de Lago).

Walsh took a significant share in both fillies and he went on to grab a stakes double as an owner on Saturday when Achernar Star (Gingerbread Man) won the Listed Grandstand Cup.

Miller was delighted to see the 4-year-old back up his maiden stakes success in the Bunbury S. earlier this month.

"It was awesome, it was very rewarding to watch him build his CV even more. I think it was a deserved win to go back-to-back and a few obstacles from the corner on and to pick up with the weight I got a huge thrill out of it. I was very excited," he said.

"He's a ripper. Everywhere you line him up he goes. And if he doesn’t win, he's always second or third or knocking on the door. He's a trainer's dream and an owner's dream as well."

Miller will decide this week whether Achernar Star heads to the paddock to target the Group 1 races later in the year in Perth or whether he is freshened up and headed toward Adelaide in April and May.

Miller collected a treble on Saturday after an impressive first-up victory from another promising filly in the 3-year-old Deacalda (Sizzling), who has now won two of her three starts.

"It's good for the owners, because we had a bit of trouble with her. When we bought her home from the yearling sales, she hurt herself, so we had to sit in a paddock for 12 months, so it's rewarding for us and the owners," he said.

Deacalda hails from the family of Group 1 winners Gold Ace and Final Card and cost Miller $105,000 at the 2017 Perth Yearling Sale.