It’s as far from the epicenter of Australian horse racing is as Santa Anita is from New York, but November 22 in Western Australia at Ascot, the Railway Stakes (Aus-I) over a mile was run.
The $1-million feature attracted plenty of eastern state names including recent Epsom Handicap (Aus-I) runner-up Bank Robber from the powerful Gai Waterhouse stable, as well as David Hayes’ previous Railway placegetter Niconero.
Also in the field was rising superstar jockey Michael Rodd who was on former Stradbroke Handicap (Aus-I) winner Sniper’s Bullet, and of course there was the local champ, Marasco.
There was also another local horse named Gilded Venom who this time last year was running around in races at a bush track named Bunbury. He was competing in $9,000 events and plugging along with limited success. Competing a year later in group I races would have been as far from the minds of the owners as catching a ship to the moon is. But following a series of improved efforts in better grade he was given his chance at the major end of town.
In the end, after the big field of 16 escaped from the gates, 8-1 chance Gilded Venom (Golden Snake--Daughter’s Charm, by Delgado) won the day in a thrilling finish. And he did it following a super ride by Patrick Carberry – a local jockey who used local knowledge of the tricky Ascot surface to win.
"I got into a nice position one off the running line, but I just knew they would bunch up on the home bend so I came out and let him stride the last 3 furlongs three off the fence. This gave him clear galloping room,” explained Carberry.
The move proved the difference. Rodd on Sniper’s Bullet, was beautifully positioned in the fourth spot throughout, within striking distance but cluttered up. While Gilded Venom swooped out wide, Sniper’s Bullet was held up for a about half a furlong – getting out a furlong from home but just not mustering enough momentum to grab the winner, failing by a short head.
Third home was 7-year-old Annenkov, who was half a length back after being up with the leaders throughout. The biggest run of the race was by Niconero who came from near last on the home bend to wind up a very fast finishing fourth only a neck behind Annenkov.
But the honors were with the winner, who is trained by Steven Wallace in a town called Coolup. Wallace paid $20,000 for Gilded Venom as a yearling.
"“We got the best run into the race and when we straightened up easily, I thought that this is ours,” Carbery said. “He sprinted really well when I asked for him to go, and although they were coming at him at the end, he stuck to his guns well.”
It was Gilded Venom’s seventh win from 18 starts, and he has earned $879,985.
Wallace said after the race that he had concerns that last week’s massive effort in the RJ Peters Stakes (Aus-III) in which Gilded Venom wound up second may have left the 5-year-old flat for the Railway Stakes.
“I thought last week might have been too much for him, and he might not have backed up seven days later,” said Wallace, who has just 10 horses in work. “But I was wrong. He hasn’t left an oat at home all week. and as it turns out the hard run last week just fixed him up nicely.”
They ran 1:34.5 for the mile on turf.