Luckygray’s quest for back-to-back honours in the $1 million Railway Stakes has been boosted after a fine win at Ascot on Saturday.
The Northampton-owned five-year-old flexed his status as WA’s top horse with a two-length win in the $200,000 WAROA Lee-Steere Stakes.
The gelding is being lined up to defend his crown at WA’s richest race on November 24.
Luckygray won the 2011 prize after a controversial protest against interference from He’s Remarkable.
But the odds will be against the Son of Bradbury’s Luck as he is expected to carry the top weight when the weights are released today.
Trainer Gino Poletti has also entered his prized galloper for the Group 1 Crown Perth Winterbottom Stakes (1200m), also on the November 24 Super Saturday meeting.
But Luckygray part-owner Barry Mitchell, a Geraldton businessman, said his horse’s sights would almost certainly be set on the Railway Stakes.
He said the connections would love him to prove a point to critics of last year’s protest result.
“Obviously we’d love to do it back-to-back and not have to go through that situation ever again,” he said.
“To be able to prove to any doubters that he was a deserved winner would be fantastic.
“But we’re not going to get the same situation again, with the same race again. There might be half the horses from last year in it this year.”
Jockey Shaun O’Donnell steered Luckygray to victory on Saturday, his ninth winning-ride on the mount who has won 11 from 16 starts.
The $2.05 favourite was at his trademark best in the final 600 metres, defeating ($51) God Has Spoken.
Mitchell said himself and fellow owners Troy Maver and Ross Drage were relieved with the win after his disappointing Melbourne campaign.
“Just to see him come back with that ride yesterday (Saturday) was really quite emotional for everyone,” he said.
"We’re just hoping he’s on his way up again and that he’s spot on for the Railway.”
Mitchell said he had taken on a new nickname, horse whisperer, after Saturday’s win.
He laughed about a pre-race pep talk he gave Luckygray.
“I just told him, forget what everyone else has said just take it easy until the 600 metre and go like s***,” he said.
“After, he nodded his head and did exactly what I’d said.”