Runner By Runner: Gold Rush

1. Dom To Shoot (59kg)

Trainer: Sean & Jake Casey
Jockey: Jarrad Noske
Barrier: 14

Turned giant killer last Saturday when gunning down Zaaki in the shadows of the post to win the Northerly Stakes, giving trainers Sean & Jake Casey as well as rider Jarrad Noske their first Group One win. Once the dust had settled there were murmurs about that he could back up off 7-days into the Gold Rush rather than go the traditional 14 days into the Van Heemst (WFA 2100). On Monday those whispers became reality and some jockey swapping was completed to ensure that Jarrad Noske could remain on Dom. 1800 back to 1400m seems an ask but he seems to rise to the occasion no matter what the task. He’s a winner at 2 years old, he’s a Group One winner at 6 years old. He’s gone around in a Perth Cup at 2400m and a Joey at 1200m within the space of 2 months. Versatile, tough and in the form of his life.

2. Valour Road (59kg)

Trainer: Simon Miller
Jockey: Chris Parnham
Barrier: 16

One of a few potential fairytale stories brewing in the 2023 Gold Rush. After Belmont Sprint in May of 2022 he was sent out into semi-retirement where trainer Simon Miller and connections pondered his future. He didn’t race for 455 days until his triumphant return in the 2023 Idyllic Prince Stakes. 8 weeks later he tackled the Eurythmic Stakes when finishing second behind Karli’s Karma (conceding her 4.5kg). Three weeks later he headed to the Lee Steere Stakes, a race with the exact same conditions as the Gold Rush, Ascot WFA 1400m, where he beat Dom To Shoot and Comfort Me. Has been back to trials as he heads into the Gold Rush five weeks between runs and looks to be racing at the peak of his powers. Chris Parnham’s decision to partner Valour Road ahead of Super Smink became a stroke of genius Monday morning when final fields were released. Barrier is a big obstacle.

3. Bustler (59kg)

Trainer: Neville Parnham
Jockey: Steven Parnham
Barrier: 15

Is on the same preparation as Dom To Shoot having won the Group One Railway Stakes with 53kg, headed a fortnight later in the Group One Northerly Stakes and now backs up off 7 days and drops from 1800m back to 1400m. In the end for a horse whose options were Gold Rush or paddock you can fully appreciate why he’s here and you’d think on face value he’s possibly better suited than Dom To Shoot dropping back in distance at this stage of his preparation? Still not an easy assignment he’s been set and when you watch the replay of the Lee Steere Stakes and you note Neville Parnham’s consistent commentary around 59kg potentially being on his weight carrying limit you start to get a little reticent about his chances of becoming the first horse to complete the Railway Stakes – Gold Rush double. Another break out preparation but this would be something if he could win 2x $1.5m races in a campaign!

4. Munhamek (59kg)

Trainer: Nick Ryan
Jockey: Damien Oliver
Barrier: 17

Won a BM84 1600 (~WA 72+) at Flemington on Australian Guineas Day in March before winning an Open Handicap Race at Moonee Valley over 1600m on All Star Mile Day a fortnight later. Had a freshen between April and June when resuming off a 63-day let-up to win his first Black Type Race of his career as a 7 year old when saluting at Listed Level over 1500m in the Nuturf Spear Chief Handicap at Eagle Farm on Queensland Oaks Day. 7 days later he finished second to Antino in the Listed Wayne Wilson over a mile. You could easily argue that his career PB was first-up this campaign at Group 2 Level when finishing third behind Cause For Concern and Bandersnatch in the Linlithgow Stakes at Flemington on Derby Day. The Gold Rush looks a step up from what he’s been racing in on paper and he rises to WFA for only the second time in his career. Damien Oliver winning the race named in his honour in his Swan Song would be unrivalled scenes and a proper send off to a proper champion.

5. Red Can Man (59kg)

Trainer: Steve Wolfe
Jockey: Paul Harvey
Barrier: 8

Turned back the clock in the Winterbottom Stakes when hitting the line full of running in fourth behind Overpass and three year olds Oscar’s Fortune and Ripcord. He’s a warrior, he’s a war horse and he was able to show that he’s still one of the better sprinters in Western Australia, but you just find it hard to see him coming out and producing a career peak performance to win at WFA over 1400m against a star-studded line-up like this. He’s now won just shy of $1.5m including Westspeed Bonus’ since making his debut way back in 2019 as a 2 year old and has a CV that includes a Group 3 Monash Stakes, a Crawford Stakes and an H.G Bolton Stakes. He’s been stiff to have run into the likes of Elite Street and Amelia’s Jewel in recent years and has finished runner up in 2x Roma Cups, a Colonel Reeves, a Belmont Sprint, a Northam Stakes and a Lee Steere Stakes. Watching the Winterbottom replay it’s not that difficult to sell yourself that he could fill a 3rd or 4th placing from the ideal draw.

6. Massimo (59kg)

Trainer: Chris & Michael Gangemi
Jockey: Brad Parnham
Barrier: 7

Has made Ascot WFA 1400 his own in recent years having won back to back Lee Steere Stakes in 2021 and 2022. In the 2021 edition he beat Valour Road and in the 2022 edition he beat home Karli’s Karma, Resortman and Comfort Me so on his day he’s more than capable of matching it with the best of the local hopes, however, you’re best to judge him off his current form and his 2023 run in the same race where he finished fourth behind Valour Road, Dom To Shoot and Comfort Me. He still beat home Bustler and went down under 3L. That’s him, he’s on speed, he’s tough and he’s the proven commodity track/distance. Doesn’t know how to run a bad race and in the inaugural Gold Rush he lead them for home before fading back into ninth beaten 3L. His best might be behind him but like Red Can Man he’ll give 100% and with a barrier he’s a flukers hope of running into the money at big odds.

7. Comfort Me (59kg)

Trainer: Rhys Radford
Jockey: Shaun McGruddy
Barrier: 3

I always feel harsh when previewing Comfort Me. You’d love to own a horse who has competed so bravely at the top level and has returned his owners over $1,000,000 in Prize Money but at the same time he’s like the Fremantle Dockers of the WA Black Type brigade – the trophy cabinet is empty (and this is coming from a long time suffering Dockers Supporter). His last victory was in November 2021 when he won a 72+ ratings race. His Feature Race record reads zero wins but that really doesn’t do him justice. He has finished in the money in 2x Railway Stakes, in the inaugural Gold Rush, in the inaugural Joey, in the Northam Stakes, in the Eurythmic Stakes, in the Lee Steere Stakes. He really deserves to win a notable race and maybe something like a rider change is exactly what the doctor ordered with Shaun McGruddy picking up the ride after Peter Knuckey elected to continue his association with Baby Paris. Big winner at the barrier draw.

8. Savatoxl (59kg)

Trainer: Will Savage
Jockey: Holly Watson
Barrier: 1

Got a lot of attention from the WA Punting Public on Monday morning but for all the wrong reasons with many people believing that he was the horse who could/should have been balloted out to make room for Super Smink. In the end those debates were ended by the handicapper with Super Smink not even being First Emergency and Savatoxl confirmed to take his spot in the Gold Rush for his second run in WA. He showed scintillating early speed to come out underneath and lead Overpass in the Winterbottom Stakes but he was gone on straightening and faded back through the field to finish last beaten 8L. Looks a completely different horse to the galloper who won a Group One Goodwood at Morphettville and a Group 2 Schillaci at Caulfield back in 2021. Unlikely to figure in the twilight of his career.

9. Hot Zed (59kg)

Trainer: Lou Luciani
Jockey: Jason Whiting
Barrier: 19

Announced himself as one of the better WA chances in the Winterbottom Stakes when winning the Colonel Reeves Stakes sitting three deep the trip. Progressed to the Group One Feature for the second year running and ran his usual honest race into sixth behind Overpass. In 2022 Hot Zed finished 1.5L off Paulele, Kissonallforcheeks and This’ll Testya in the Winterbottom and then was only 1.8L off The Astrologist, Kissonallforcheeks and Comfort Me in the Gold Rush and you’d have to say he’s in very similar form in 2023 to what he was in 2022. From that assessment it puts him in the first half of the field but whether he has the brilliance to come out and beat them at WFA at 1400m remains to be seen. Every time you underestimate him he comes out to make a fool of you and a glass half full approach would be to say that he does his best work with room to move so barrier 16 of 16 keeps him out of trouble!

10. Ayrton (59kg)

Trainer: Mick Price & Michael Kent Jnr
Jockey: Damian Lane
Barrier: 11

Won the 2021 Group 3 Gundynd Classic at Eagle Farm as a 3 year old under James McDonld over 1600m in SWP conditions to open his Black Type account. Almost 12 months later in April 2022 he won the Group 3 Victoria Handicap over 1400m at Caulfield beating Streets of Avalon (Kissonallforcheeks was back in fourth). Took over a year for him to win another race and that came in the form of the Listed Weekend Hustler at 1400m at Caulfield in Handicap conditions. The Gold Rush is only the second time in his career that he has raced at WFA but many will argue that his fast finishing effort behind Magic Time in the Group One Sir Rupert Clarke (when 1.5L in front of Munhamek) is more than enough to suggest he’s one of the main chances. Couple that with the fact that one of the country (world’s) best hoops in Damien Lane comes to town and he’s going to be understandably popular in betting. Thinking Ayrton > Munhamek.

11. Resortman (59kg)

Trainer: Michael Lane
Jockey: Brad Rawiller
Barrier: 10

On a completely different preparation than last year and just get the feeling that the Gold Rush was always his Grand Final rather than the Winterbottom Stakes. Last year hit the Gold Rush at his 9th run of the campaign stretching right back to winter at Belmont Park when winning the H.G Bolton (1200), Idyllic Prince (1300), Farnley (1400) and Eurythmic (1400) before going to the Railway and a Gold Rush. In 2023 Michael Lane instead went first-up into the Winterbottom Stakes and now heads to the Gold Rush second-up. He’s proven himself at Handicap, SWP and WFA conditions but you’re naturally going to question whether he’ll ever rise to the same heights as he produced in 2022 when he was the form horse of the winter/spring. Probably needed to see a little more out of him in the Winterbottom but still have that feeling that it was only the Semi Final in terms of fitness.

12. Laverrod (59kg)

Trainer: Sean & Jake Casey
Jockey: Craig Williams
Barrier: 13

Should the emergencies not be required then he’s the big beneficiary of Super Smink Gate. After likely heading into Sunday night without a rider he’s been gifted the services of Craig Williams and it looks like he’s just as good a chance over 1400m as the stablemate Dom To Shoot. His run in the Winterbottom was one of the best in replay and it was backed up by the sectionals recording the fastest L1000, 800, 600, 400 & 200 overall and even more impressively the fastest 400 – 200 & 200 – post of the race. The way he hit the line gave every indication that 1400m would be right up his alley and he showed that WFA is not an issue for him. Just like Dom To Shoot going into the Northerly Stakes, he’s a sleeper. Obvious concern is that he hasn’t won a race since April 2021 at Caulfield but keep safe at odds.

13. My Bella Mae (57kg)

Trainer: Dion Luciani
Jockey: Patrick Carbery
Barrier: 18

Everything and everyone seems to have caught up to My Bella Mae at this stage. Brilliant filly who went from a 3 year old 0MWLY midweek to a 3 year old Saturday handicap to a Listed Placid Ark Stakes winner within the space of a month before heading into the 2022 Winterbottom with 51.5kg. Returned in a blaze of glory in early 2023 winning a 3 year old Plate and beating the older horses in a Listed Cyril Flower Stakes before heading to Victoria for two runs. Hasn’t been at her best since that Victorian trip and while she more than held her own in the Winterbottom running fifth she steps out to 1400m for only the second time in her life. Don’t feel she’s going well enough to sit back and zap these. 2023 Cyril Flower / Pinjarra Classic / Bluff Knoll / Quokka more her style at this stage.

14. Baby Paris (57kg)

Trainer: Colin Webster
Jockey: Peter Knuckey
Barrier: 2

Brings alternate form to the rest of the field after the stable made a bold and as it happened genius decision to bypass the riches of the Group One Winterbottom Stakes to head to the Jungle Dawn Classic at Fillies & Mares Level over 1400m on the same day. She loaded, she jumped and from there she was always going to be hard to get past as a m98 rater with 58.5kg at SWP. The second mare Rusty Dreams was only a m77 rater and yet carried only 2kg less than her that day – so from a weights and measures perspective she was there to win the Jungle Dawn whereas she’s right on in the deep end at WFA in the Gold Rush. Her win was good enough for Peter Knuckey to stick with her over Comfort Me and that’s a decision that must be given some weight when assessing her chances. Absorbs all the pressure that Savatoxl injects into the race and that could leave her vulnerable late.

15. Karli’s Karma (57kg)

Trainer: Summer Dickson
Jockey: Michael Poy
Barrier: 6

One of the hardest horses to line-up in the race. After winning the Group 3 Eurythmic Stakes under William Pike trainer Summer Dickson made the decision to bypass the Lee Steere Stakes and go straight to the Railway 5 weeks between runs. Blinkers went on for the first time and there was a bit of money around for her in pre-post betting. In the end you have to head straight to the Stewards Report which reads “mare was found to have an epiglottis entrapment” and she has since undergone minor corrective surgery. Trialled on Monday at Lark Hill to book her spot in the race and her best is good enough to be a blow out chance. There will be a myriad of differing opinions on where this mare sits in the pecking order come Saturday. Always an X-Factor runner but now even more intriguing.

16. Ripcord (54kg)

Trainer: Luke Fernie
Jockey: Clint Johnston-Porter
Barrier: 9

Was one of the most remarkable visual performances in the Placid Ark Stakes when charging home over the top of a tiring Oscar’s Fortune to score. There was massive debate about the accuracy and the validity of the sectional times of his win with the rail movement at the 550m and the concertina effect on a number of runners due to crowding and bumping at that point in the race as well as the fact he was speared off the track into the home corner, but in the end most agreed that you trust the eye and you trust the 200 – Post section which was near 11:00 seconds flat. He ran third at WFA in the Winterbottom Stakes and never really got the flowing run that a horse like Ripcord needs. He’s an undeniable chance again with the right run and he’ll again go around an eachway quote. Think he’s one of WA’s best chances of retaining the trophy.


Has always raced like he would appreciate more ground and while he’s yet to step beyond 1200m in his career his win in the Placid Ark and his follow on run in the Winterbottom Stakes show that he’s more than capable of absorbing the pressure of top-tier racing and then still showing a turn of acceleration at the end of his races. Connections turned down big money offers for him recently and hopefully on Saturday they’ll be repaid for their faith. He’s big, he’s raw and since the visors have gone on he’s savaged the line on both occasions. Ripcord, Oscar’s Fortune, Zipaway, A Lot Of Good Men – it’s hard to knock the way the 3 year old brigade have been standing up against the older horses across the entire Pinnacles series.

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