Playing God Wins His Second Kingston Town

Playing GodPlaying GodPlaying God timed his return to winning form to perfection, taking out the Group One Kingston Town Stakes at Ascot in front of his home town crowd for the second year in a row.

Punters shied away from Playing God in Saturday's 1800m feature following his mixed spring campaign in Melbourne and disappointing effort in the Railway Stakes two weeks ago.

He was sent out at $19 with Railway Stakes winner Luckygray the $2.80 favourite.

Riding for his trainer father Neville, Steven Parnham had Playing God up with the leaders ready to pounce.

He made his move on Playing God at the top of the straight and held off the challenge from Ranger (3.70) by a length with the same margin to WA Guineas winner King Saul ($5.50).

"Everybody wrote him off. I was probably the only one who didn't," Neville Parnham said.

"We took the sprint out of his legs in the Railway after four solid runs so we changed his training.

"I sent him down to my farm for the past couple of weeks. He's been in a paddock and he's been going to the beach.

"We planned to run closer to the speed because it's hard to make up ground on a day like today.

"Steven rode him perfectly."

Parnham said Playing God would now go to the spelling paddock with another trip to Melbourne in the autumn on the agenda.

Steven Parnham said it was a thrill to score a second Group One on the horse.

"I'm just excited to be in it. We don't have many Group Ones over here," he said.

"I got across nice from the barrier and he relaxed.

"When I pulled he grabbed the steel and kicked clear well.

"He delivered everything he had.

"The staff have done a terrific job and I have to take my hat off to them.

"He was down and out in the Railway."

Luckygray, whose win on protest in the Railway will be the subject of a legal challenge from the connections of He's Remarkable, finished fifth without ever looking a threat.

Luckygray Draws Outside In Group One

Railway Stakes winner Luckygray is an easing favourite after drawing the outside gate for Saturday's Group One Kingston Town Classic at Ascot.

Luckygray was the $2.60 elect with TAB Sportsbet prior to Wednesday's barrier draw but eased to $2.80 after landing the 14 marble.

Ranger firmed from $3.80 to $3.60 following his ideal draw in three.

Victorian mare Avienus drew four and is at $21 while three-year-old King Saul ($5), to be ridden by Glyn Schofield, has gate 10.

Last year's Kingston Town winner Playing God is a $16 chance to go back to back after drawing gate five.

McEvoy Comes Off Second Best At Ascot

New Zealand trainer Roger James experienced the highs and lows of racing in 30 minutes when He's Remarkable won, then lost, Perth's biggest race, the $1 million Railway Stakes.

Kerrin McEvoyKerrin McEvoyShaun O'Donnell, rider of second past the post, Luckygray, fired in a protest against He's Remarkable's jockey Kerrin McEvoy as did Paul Harvey who rode fourth placed Waratah's Secret.

Harvey was unsuccessful but stewards upheld O'Donnell's objection, agreeing McEvoy had shifted out approaching the home turn causing interference to horses on his outside.

They deemed the ground lost by Luckygray to be greater than the long neck margin at the end of the race.

Luckygray made up many lengths on He's Remarkable inside the final 200 metres of the 1600m event and O'Donnell said the four-year-old deserved the win.

"It was unfortunate the incident happened," O'Donnell said.

"My thoughts were that we should have won and I was a shattered man coming back in.

"I didn't know who did it (the interference) and I told the trainer Gino Poletti we should look at the film.

"I'm happy. I've won a Group One before but this is my first win in a million dollar race."

McEvoy's day didn't get much better when he finished second aboard Rarefied in the other Group One race on the Ascot program, the Winterbottom Stakes (1400m).

The result was a triumph for headline jockey Craig Williams who steered Ortensia to a clear cut victory.

Williams was riding at his last meeting in Australia before heading to Japan on a six week contract.

He had his own share of disappointment earlier this month when suspension robbed him of the winning Melbourne Cup ride on Dunaden and also Ortensia's win at the Flemington carnival.

Formerly trained by Tony Noonan, Ortensia was headed to the broodmare barn but owner Alister Fraser decided to give her another preparation and sent her to his Hunter Valley neighbour Paul Messara.

The winner of the 2009 Winterbottom when it was a Group Two race, Ortensia was stripped of her 2010 Group One Galaxy trophy due to a positive swab.

"To win a Group One win on this mare is great," Williams said.

"She deserved to have it. She had one and she lost it.

"She was awesome today. I have such a great relationship with her. I trust her and she was really good."

Ortensia beat Rarefied by a length with Grand Nirvana a close third.

"I'm overwhelmed," Fraser said.

"I semi retired her but I thought there was still something left.

"I wanted her to go out on top. I thought she she deserved to go out a winner."

Fraser said he and Messara would discuss whether to give Ortensia another preparation in the autumn before she goes to stud.

Earlier, Williams won the Group Two WA Guineas (1600m) on King Saul for leading Perth trainer Trevor Andrews.

Picture: Sportpix

Rawiller Chasing Kingston Town Hat-trick

Jockey Brad Rawiller is hopeful Avienus can rebound from her Railway Stakes disappointment and give him his third Kingston Town Classic at Ascot.

Rawiller, who won the feature twice on the David Hayes-trained in Niconero in 2006 and 2008, says he expects Avienus will be at her top on Saturday.

Trained by Mark Webb, Avienus didn't travel well to Perth and took several days to recover before finishing a seven-length 10th to Luckygray when ridden by Craig Williams in the Group One Railway Stakes on November 19.

Rawiller regains the mount this weekend after partnering her in three Melbourne spring runs.

He finished second on her to Descarado in last month's Group One Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and was second last on her in the Cox Plate, in which she was badly checked.

He also rode her earlier this month when she stormed home from last to finish fourth to Vintedge in the Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington.

Rawiller said that the 1800m Kingston Town was always going to be a better a race for Avienus than the 1600m Railway.

"She was trained for a mile-and-a-quarter (2000m) and the race this week over 1800 metres was always going to be her best chance," Rawiller said.

"She will be primed for it and I'm happy to be on her."

Avienus is looking to break a losing run of more than year after her last success in the Group Two Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley in September 2010.

Parnham Rapt With Playing God

Playing God has come through his Melbourne spring campaign in top order and is thriving ahead of his Group One assignment in Saturday's Railway Stakes at Ascot.

Trainer Neville Parnham said the four-year-old was relishing being home in Perth after a five-start carnival campaign in Melbourne.

Playing GodPlaying GodWhile he didn't win in the southern capital he was Group One placed behind December Draw and Glass Harmonium in the Turnbull Stakes and finished 11th in the Cox Plate.

"I am extremely happy with my horse," Parnham told Perth Racing.

"He travelled back from Victoria in perfect order and he has really thrived back on home soil."

Playing God is already a Group One winner having claimed the Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot last year.

He will have to contend with top weight of 57kg in the Railway (1600m) but Parnham is happy with his midfield draw of barrier nine.

"The barrier looks ideal for him and I couldn't be happier," Parnham said.

"When the weights came out I was pleased with his weight, but unfortunately a few of the top weights went amiss and we now have to carry 57kg.

"It's not the end of the world, but a horse like Avienus (53kg) looks well suited in my opinion."

Playing God delivered Parnham his first Group One success in the Kingston Town in which he was partnered by the trainer's son Steven who will again be in the saddle.

"The horse is going really well. It's an exciting race this year and I am happy to be aboard my bloke," Steven Parnham said.

"I was pleased with his efforts in Victoria against the top grade and since he has returned home, he has really blossomed."

Picture: Quentin Lang

Schofield Hungry For Kingston Town Success

Eat less and exercise even more than usual.

That's the plan for top jockey Glyn Schofield for this week as he aims to win Australia's final Group One of 2011 on Saturday.

Schofield secured the Kingston Town Stakes (1800m) ride on last start WA Guineas winner King Saul last week and partners the gelding at 52kg on Saturday at Ascot.

Schofield rode at 53.5kg at Canterbury last weekend and will ride at 53kg on Wednesday before turning his attention to the Perth feature.

King Saul is the third favourite at $4.80 on TAB Sportsbet with a field of 15 to take aim in the $500,000 weight-for-age feature.

Luckygray, who controversially won the Railway Stakes on protest, is the $2.60 favourite with Group Two Lee Steere Stakes winner Ranger second elect at $4.

A study of King Saul's race films has Sydney-based Schofield bullish about his prospects.

"Obviously from the time they asked me to ride him last week I've been on a bit of a diet and I'll just up the workload a bit this week," Schofield said.

"It makes it a lot easier with this warmer weather and I'm looking forward to going over there because he really looks a smart horse."

The Trevor Andrews-trained King Saul flashed home to record his third win from just four starts in the Group Two WA Guineas (1600m) with Craig Williams aboard.

Williams finished second in Sunday's Japan Cup and his six-week riding stint in Japan ruled him out of the Kingston Town Stakes.

King Saul is the only three-year-old in the field with the barrier draw to take place on Wednesday.

Last year's winner Playing God is back to defend his crown, while Melbourne-based jockey Brad Rawiller will be chasing his third win in the event when he partners the Mark Webb-trained Avienus.

Schofield believes King Saul will have no trouble with the 1800m journey.

"What I like about him is the way he finishes strongly," Schofield said.

"He started off over shorter distances and then won the Guineas over a mile. He finished strongly and was quite impressive.

"He's dropping in weight, going up to 1800 metres and the way he races that looks good for him."

Victory on King Saul would double Schofield's Group One tally for the season after guiding top-class three-year-old Manawanui to victory in the $1 million Golden Rose at Rosehill in August.

McEvoy Chasing Perth G1 Double

Kerrin McEvoy's Group One tally for 2011 could reach double figures if things go his way in Perth on Saturday.

McEvoy will make a rare visit to Ascot to partner New Zealand four-year-old He's Remarkable in the Railway Stakes (1600m) and Rarefied in the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m).

Both runners are well in contention for the Group One events as McEvoy looks to cap a fine 2011 at Australia's penultimate Group One meeting for the calendar year.

McEvoy has won eight Group Ones this year with superstar three-year-olds Sepoy (four) and Helmet (three) the major contributors.

"It's been a good year and it's always exciting to go away to a place you haven't ridden at a lot and go there with a couple of live chances," McEvoy said.

"I'm looking forward to the trip and I'll settle for another big race win, definitely. That would be nice."

McEvoy partnered the Roger James-trained He's Remarkable to an impressive win over 1600m in restricted company during Melbourne Cup week at Flemington and the son of Pentire drops from 59kg to 53kg on Saturday.

"He gave me a nice feel last start picking up under that big weight quickly to get out of an awkward spot to win the race," McEvoy said.

"He looks a nice mile handicapper for the future and this might be his race come Saturday."

Comeback sprinter Rarefied has overcome adversity to be in Group One contention after a tendon injury and then two quarter cracks on his hoof kept him off the scene for 18 months.

Runner-up performances in the Listed Lightning Handicap (1100m) and Group Two Salinger Stakes (1200m) has the Peter Snowden-trained gelding second favourite behind 2009 Winterbottom winner Ortensia.

"Obviously this race is weight-for-age and he's got to give a bit of weight to Ortensia which is the big question," McEvoy said.

"But Pete (Snowden) is happy with him and he's travelled over well. She (Ortensia) is the one we've all got to beat, no doubt.

"It was a good run from Rarefied in the Salinger, he travelled nicely right behind the speed and had a dream run.

"He kept me interested all the way up the straight because he was coming and just got beat by Sister Madly.

"So that's a nice form race."

Sister Madly had finished second to Sepoy in the Group One Manikato Stakes and a close second to More Joyous in the Group Two Tristarc before winning the Salinger.

Remarkable Connections Consider Appeal

Connections of He's Remarkable are considering an appeal against a stewards' decision to uphold a protest against the Kiwi galloper in Perth's Railway Stakes.

He's Remarkable was first across the line in the Group One at Ascot on Saturday but was demoted to runner-up following a successful protest against Kerrin McEvoy from Shaun O'Donnell who rode second past the post Luckygray.

Roger James, trainer of He's Remarkable, was shocked his horse lost the race and subsequently approached stewards to inquire about his appeal options.

"I went to the stewards an hour afterwards and asked what avenues were available to me for the likes of an appeal - and I questioned them on it - but they gave me a very strong indication the only way was through a procedural error and not the decision itself," James told New Zealand's Waikato Times newspaper.

James has since been in contact with a legal professional in Western Australia who advised him differently.

James said connections were now seriously considering whether to appeal the protest decision.

"The owners are going through the process of considering every possible option," James said.

"We should have been putting to bed on Saturday night a horse that was worth $4 million to $5 million."

Stewards found Luckygray was the victim of interference at the 600m and deemed it cost him more than the long neck margin by which he was beaten.

James feels the evidence he has seen does not prove He's Remarkable was responsible for causing the incident.

"I asked them to show us some evidence of where they could prove that it was our horse that caused the incident and they couldn't do that, but the ruling still went against us," he said.

"I've looked at the decision from every possible angle and however you look at it, it's a bad decision."

James said he had received sympathy and support from both punters and people involved in the racing industry.

"There were 20,000 people there on Saturday and I was walking out afterwards and people were coming up to me and saying `I can't believe it - that was just a shocking decision'," James said.

It is believed connections have until December 3 to lodge an appeal.

He's Remarkable is due to fly back to New Zealand on Sunday and will be set for the Doncaster Mile at Randwick in April.

New Frontier For Messara

It isn't quite Royal Ascot but trainer Paul Messara will break new ground on Saturday when he runs favourite Ortensia in the Group One Winterbottom Stakes in Perth.

OrtensiaOrtensiaMessara travelled to England in June last year with Alverta who finished down the track in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot before her game third in the July Cup at Newmarket.

This time, it is Perth's Ascot racetrack where he will pin his hopes on another mare, recent acquisition Ortensia.

"It will be my first runner in Perth," Messara said.

"It is absolutely a good experience and I'll certainly come back for some of these good races with the right horse."

Messara landed in Western Australia on Monday and said he was pleased with how Ortensia had settled in since her arrival a week earlier.

Not that there was any doubt she would cope with the trip.

"Prior to coming to my stable she had raced in Hong Kong, Sydney, Melbourne, Queensland and Perth," Messara said.

"She's got plenty of frequent flyer points."

Previously prepared by Tony Noonan, Ortensia won the Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in 2009 when it was a Group Two race.

Overall she has nine victories from 28 starts, including a dominant Flemington win at her only run for Messara on Oaks Day.

TOrtensiaOrtensiahe one thing missing from her CV is a Group One.

She was first past the post in the 2010 Galaxy at Randwick but later disqualified due to a positive swab, believed to have been a result of contaminated feed.

Her chances of righting that have been boosted by a good draw in gate two along with the booking of Craig Williams who has been in sterling form during the Melbourne spring.

Williams partnered Ortensia in the Winterbottom two years ago and Messara is happy to stick to a winning formula.

"More than having just won at the track and trip, she's won this race," Messara said.

"She's got the same jockey on and the rider is in fantastic form.

"It does give you a bit of confidence."

TAB Sportsbet has Ortensia the solid $2.30 favourite ahead of Darley's Rarefied at $6.

Ranger is fancied to provide a win for the locals in the other Group One on the program, the Railway Stakes (1600m).

Ascot (Saturday)

Race 9 @ 4:25pm (local time) - Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m)

# Form     Horse (Barrier)           Trainer             Jockey       Wgt API Win% Plc%
1 113x22 Grand Nirvana (10) F R Kersley P Hall 58.5 29.5 27.3 57.6
2 2645x9 Hadabeclorka (9) B R Larsson G L Smith 58.5 19.5 20.5 45.5
3 407x3x Elliotto (1) N D Parnham B Parnham 58.5 13.0 25.0 58.3
4 4x1262 Werd (6) Chris Gangemi C Staples 58.5 12.1 26.5 61.8
5 022156 Kid Choisir (13) A M McNamara P Harvey 58.5 18.2 33.3 57.1
6 0x5409 Ego's Dare (5) Grant Williams S O'Donnell 58.5 10.1 19.4 41.9
7 336x22 Rarefied (7) Peter Snowden K Mc Evoy 58.5 21.2 21.4 78.6
8 25x216 The Entourage (11) Chris Gangemi C Mc Callum 58.5 11.6 16.7 70.0
9 34x190 Elusive Touch (14) Shane Edwards P Knuckey 58.5 20.1 35.7 71.4
10 11x174 Morant (4) R & C Price W Pike 58.5 15.3 31.6 73.7
11 3670x1 Ortensia (2) Paul Messara Craig Williams 56.5 44.6 32.1 57.1
12 39x0L5 For Your Eyes Only (8) P H Jordan T Turner 56.5 22.4 38.5 61.5
13 x11303 All Friared Up (12) S R Bates J Whiting 56.5 21.0 53.8 76.9
14 x11341 Avante (3) Grant Williams Ms K Yuill 56.5 12.0 30.0 70.0

Pictures: Fiona Tomlin

McEvoy Outed For 28 Days Over Railway Ride

Not only did Kerrin McEvoy lose the Group One Railway Stakes on protest, the jockey was hit with a 28 day ban for Saturday's interference.

Kerrin McEvoyKerrin McEvoyMcEvoy steered New Zealander He's Remarkable in the Group One race at Ascot in Perth but celebrations were put on hold when Luckygray's rider Shaun O'Donnell fired in a protest.

After a lengthy hearing, stewards declared Luckygray the winner after deeming McEvoy had caused interference to horses on his outside approaching the home turn.

The retained rider for Sheikh Mohammed's Darley Australia, McEvoy holds a one-win lead over Jim Cassidy as he strives for his first Sydney premiership.

He will ride in Sydney on Wednesday then join Cassidy on the sidelines with the latter hit with a five week ban last week for overuse of the whip.

The trip to the west didn't end well for McEvoy who had to settle for second in the other Group One race of the feature meeting when Rarefied was overhauled by Ortensia.

A prolific twitter user, McEvoy showed he still had a sense of humour.

"Well a disappointing end to a grt days racing,losing a G1 race in the stewards room is quite hard2swallow,28days suspension to unclog throat" he tweeted.

Ortensia's win in the Winterbottom Stakes was a triumph for jockey Craig Williams who is well acquainted with the ups and downs of racing.

Williams was on the verge of history this spring to become the first jockey to take out the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup in the same year.

But a suspension cost him the ride on French horse Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup with Christophe Lemaire riding the horse to a narrow victory.

Williams leaves on Tuesday to take up a six-week contract in Japan where he has been successful in previous visits.

Picture: Sportpix

Ortensia Draws Two In Winterbottom

Favourite Ortensia has drawn ideally in barrier two for her Group One mission in Saturday's Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot.

OrtensiaOrtensiaOrtensia was victorious in the 1200m race two years ago when it was a Group Two event.

Darley trainer Peter Snowden's hopeful Rarefied also fared well with gate seven in the field of 14 while Grand Nirvana, among the best of the local hopes, drew 10.

Fellow locals All Friared Up and Kid Choisir are also being kept safe in betting but both will have to overcome wide alleys in 12 and 13 respectively.

Ortensia was the clear cut $2.30 favourite with TAB Sportsbet on Wednesday ahead of Rarefied at $6.

Picture: Fiona Tomlin

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