Leading West Australian trainer Neville Parnham says Playing God hasn’t peaked yet but is pretty close to it for Sunday’s Group One Turnbull Stakes at Flemington.
Parnham is preparing the four-year-old, by 1999 Victoria Derby winner Blackfriars, for his ultimate spring aim, the $3 million Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 22 and the trainer said he would probably go into that race at his sixth run in.
“He’s likely to back up in next Saturday’s Caulfield Stakes,” Parnham said.
“He hasn’t peaked yet but he’s pretty close to it.”
The entire resumed with a second in the Goodwood Sprint (1300m) at Belmont Park before coming across to Melbourne to run fourth in the Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington and fifth to Cox Plate rival Lion Tamer in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield.
“He’s done really well and his work this week has been fantastic,” Parnham said.
“I think he’ll run in the top three.
“This is the race where I would have thought he’d start to show his best form.
“Not that I’ve been unhappy with his runs. We’ve been dictated to a bit.
“If he can come good in this race we’re going to be walking away pretty happy.
“We’re looking forward to it and hopefully we can get a little bit of fine weather.”
Parnham said apart from the winner Lion Tamer in the Underwood, the only two horses who made up ground from the 800m were Scarlett Lady and Playing God.
“He had a bit of a blow after the Underwood and he has taken a bit of benefit out of the race fitness-wise and with the work I’ve given him over the past couple of weeks he’s trimmed right up,” he said.
“I can see that he’s starting to tighten up which he should be starting to do now.”
Parnham said it was nice to draw a good barrier (five) and Playing God, to be ridden by his son Steven, would probably settle just off the pace and follow the likely leader Glass Harmonium who drew barrier one.
“I’d say racing at this level the gate is going to be a big advantage to him, especially after his last start when he drew the outside (14) and that controlled where we went,” he said.
“We went back with him and the even tempo favoured the horses up front.”
Playing God gave Parnham his first Group One win in the Kingston Town Classic (1800m) last December.
He has continued to race well at the highest level with third placings in the Australian Guineas (1600m) and the Australian Cup (2000m), both at Flemington, and a second in the WATC Derby (2400m).
The 2009 Turnbull winner Efficient, owned by Lloyd Williams, is second-up after a long layoff and will be opposed by stablemate and Australian Cup runner-up Linton.
But another stablemate At First Sight has been scratched leaving a field of 13.
The English Derby runner-up will run in the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes (2400m) at Caulfield next Saturday.