Kingston Town Classic: Stratum Star wins amid controversy

Kingston Town Classic: Stratum Star wins amid controversy

DARREN Weir shouted the bar a cool $5000 after his stallion Stratum Star won the Kingston Town Classic in a day at Ascot marred by controversy.

It was the first WA Group 1 win for the Melbourne trainer as well as homegrown jockey Damien Lane.

The richest Group 1 1800m race in the Southern Hemisphere, the $1 million race capped off the re-booted Masters carnival which saw attendance jump 52 per cent over the three racing weekends to about 26,000.

Perth Racing chief executive Julian Sullivan said the inaugural Masters had been an outstanding success.

“Across all key benchmarks, the success of the first ever Masters has exceeded our expectations,” he said

“We set out with The Masters to attract a class field and some of the best horses competing on the track today – in WA, Australia and overseas – and we hit our target there, with nominations for the three Group One headline races hitting a record of 281 and the number of interstate and international gallopers more than double last year’s total.”

In a first for Perth, all Group 1 races were broadcast live on the Seven Network in WA.

The day was soured for some when champion jockey Douglas Whyte was charged for failing to ride Railway Stakes winner Scales of Justice to the line.

Stewards used vision from the hawk-eye replay to claim Whyte had stopped riding in the last 20m.

Whyte, who pleaded not guilty, said he had stopped using the whip but still used his hands and heels to drive the horse home.

Trainer Lindsay Smith said he was happy with the ride.

“It wouldn’t have mattered if he hit it two or three times,” said Smith.

Scales of Justice lost by only half a head to Stratum Star.

Whyte, who has since returned to his Hong Kong home, could face a lengthy suspension if found guilty.

The win for Stratum Star broke the five-year-old’s yearlong losing streak.

“(I) went the double trial, I came and had a look at him last week and I thought he looked a bit big underneath,” he said.

Smith let the east coasters use his own track to train the winner.

Last years Kingston Town winner and favourite Perfect Reflection surprised New Zealand hopeful Kawi to come in third.