Todd Pannell and Will Clarken will be hoping for a repeat of last year’s success when Steel Frost returns to the track in Saturday’s Group 3 Spring Stakes at Morphettville.
Clarken and Pannell teamed up to claim the 2017 feature when Mio Dio caused a boil over to defeat Lord Aspen and Casino Wizard. Steel Frost had a tune up last week at Gawler in preparation for this and while he has the class, he has been more prolific over the 1400m as opposed to the 1200m and is only one from four first up. Clarken’s other runner Tatoosh was third in his last start at Moonee Valley in June and a freshen up in a trial last week as well which should have him in good order over a distance he’s enjoyed success.
The form horse of the field looks to be Symon Wilde’s Inn Keeper who was only 1.5 lengths off Voodoo Lad in the Group 3 Sir John Monash Stakes last month. That form has well and truly been franked after Voodoo Lad’s win in Saturday’s Group 3 Aurie’s Star Stakes and the start prior he was second behind Vega Magic in the Bletchingly Stakes. Inn Keeper has won seven of his ten career starts and is also undefeated in three starts over the 1200m. With Dom Tourneur on board from gate two, the five-year-old should take plenty of beating.
Saturday will also see the return of Tony McEvoy’s Sandown Stakes winner Dollar for Dollar who has a fantastic first up record of 3:2-1-0 and is undefeated at the distance. The gelding will appreciate more distance as he gets into his prep but with Jamie Kah on board he’ll be in this race right to the end.
While five runners will be first up on Saturday, Hard Empire and Exalted Adam are both coming off last start wins. Exalted Adam smashed his opponents in his last start, winning by 4.7 lengths and has four wins and four placings from eleven starts over the 1200m. Trainer Grant Young has a big opinion of this horse who was only 4.4 lengths off Santa Ana Lane in the Goodwood. The fitness edge could be a huge factor in his chances come Saturday.
Hard Empire has had three wins in his last four starts and has never missed a place at 1200m around Morphettville. In form apprentice Justin Huxtable has ridden the horse in his last three wins and will take the ride on Saturday. Interestingly trainer Richard Jolly won this race as a jockey back in 1997 on Hero Wind.
As for the other runners, Mubakkir is always around the mark but is getting on in age at eight years old. He has placed eight out of twelve times over 1200m but hasn’t won since January 2017. Silent Warrior will be looking for further but has been okay first up in the past with three placings from five starts while emerging stayer Pretty Punk is the other runner who will be looking for further and has never troubled the judges in four first up runs. Interestingly Pretty Punk’s famous sire Rebel Raider won this race back in 2010 as a five-year-old, the same age as Pretty Punk will be this Saturday.