Ascot Preview: Scenic Blast Stakes

First Among Equals has his hoof on the till and is poised to land a career-best win in the $100,000 Listed Scenic Blast Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on Saturday.

The Simon Miller-trained Exceed And Excel gelding can validate the promise he displayed last year when he compiled a blemish free campaign at Belmont and Ascot.

He was on target to tackle the rich Ascot summer carnival but Miller resisted the temptation and spelled the gelding after his fifth consecutive win last June.

Miller brought First Among Equals back for the Listed Summer Scorcher (1000m) on January 2 and despite his winning run coming to an end he ran a bolter.

He settled near last but sizzled home to be placed ¾ length fourth to gun sprinter, Sheidel after closing out the final 600m in race fastest 34.07sec.

He followed up and produced another similar run in the Listed Miss Andretti Stakes (1100m) when a long-head second to boom three-year-old, Lucky Street.

Lucky Street was last season’s outstanding juvenile and is nominal favourite for next week’s Magic Millions Perth Trophy (1200m) at Pinjarra.

First Among Equals faces a field of seven in the Scenic Blast Stakes, headed by Rebel King and the return of Hannans Handicap placegetter, Red Ora.

Top jockey Peter Knuckey, who has partnered First Among Equals to four of his seven career wins, said the four-year-old deserved to land a breakthrough win.

“He is going super well and was awfully unlucky first-up and second-up he ran into a pretty good three-year-old colt,” Knuckey said on TABradio.

“Being third run in and the field not being as strong he should be awfully hard to beat.

“He is a get back horse but there are only seven runners and you think he wouldn’t be too far from them when turning for home.

“If he can put in that same finish as in the Lucky Street run they are going to be pretty hard to hold him out.”

Knuckey says race day experience would favour Guest Express who has drawn perfectly in barrier one in the Lunar Raceday On Feb 13 Plate (1000m).

The Dick Turpin gelding ran second to Diamond Princess on debut at Bunbury and chased hard behind The Celt when third at Ascot two weeks back.

“He has been well schooled with two trials and two race starts under his belt.

“He goes into the race looking really good and real sharp.

“A couple of his trials he raced quite green and also in track work.

“But last start he raced real tractable and did everything spot on.

“He has a lot of things going his way.”

Julio Santarelli