Ripper Rio is poised to breakthrough for his maiden feature race win, when he lines up in Sunday’s Mungrup Stud Sprint (1300m) at Mount Barker.
The six-year-old, to be ridden by William Pike, produced an encouraging performance in a 1000m trial at Belmont Park on January 8, defeating Flying Roar and Eleven Seconds, and heads into the Mungrup Stud Sprint first-up.
The Grant and Alana Williams-trained gelding has finished out of the placings once in six first-up runs, and Alana Williams said the $100,000 event was the right race for Ripper Rio to kick of his campaign.
“We aimed at this race a while ago,” she said.
“The trial was good, and the jockey was happy and we are looking forward to the Mungrup.”
Ripper Rio, who opened the $3.20 favourite for the Mungrup Stud Sprint with TABtouch, runs into 2016 winner Dream Lifter and Red Ora, who is on debut for the Steve Wolfe stable.
Dream Lifter carries the 59.5kg topweight, while Red Ora has 54.5kg for his first start since the Northam Cup on October 29.
Red Ora and Dream Lifter occupy the second and third line of betting respectively, while Mad Brad is the only other runner in single figures.
Williams said Dream Lifter, having his first start since finishing six lengths behind Viddora in the Winterbottom Stakes, would be difficult to beat on Sunday.
“I think Dream Lifter is the one to beat,” she said.
“He has the home track advantage, but we have an opinion of Ripper Rio.
“We know he’s probably a peg below the better ones, but this race should suit.”
The Williams stable didn’t have a runner in the Mungrup Stud Sprint last year, but had Shining Knight in the race two years ago when he finished sixth to Dream Lifter.
Williams said she felt Ripper Rio would be better equipped to take on the Mount Barker track than Shining Knight.
“I think Shining Knight found the track a little bit tricky,” she said.
“Ripper Rio will handle it a lot better, and we are looking forward to a forward showing.”
Williams won the race on two occasions as a jockey, back in 2003 aboard Shane’s Boy for Michael Pateman, and the Chris Wolfe-trained Chucka Khan a year later.
Dream Lifter will be looking to join Ringroad as the only multiple winner of the race, while William Pike can join Williams as the only jockey to win the race back-to-back after he won aboard Rebel King last year.