The final Group 1 on the calendar will take place at Ascot on Saturday with a field of 16 stepping out in the time-honoured Northerly Stakes.  

The 1800m staying test has drawn a handful of inter-state raiders, most notably Annabel Neasham’s multiple Group 1 winner Zaaki.  

Last-start Railway Stakes winner Bustler heads the top of the local hopes, followed closely by runner-up Alsephina with William Pike in the saddle.  

It’s already been a memorable summer of racing in Perth, and our thoughts on every runner in this year’s Northerly Stakes can be found here! 

1. Zaaki (10)

Annabel Neasham’s four-time Group 1 winner will line up in Perth for the first time coming off a month break. 

The prized nine-year-old went close without winning during the spring, resuming for third in the Winx Stakes first-up behind Fangirl, and most recently just missing out on a place in the Champions Stakes at Flemington. 

It’s hard to find a horse with a better record over 1800m, and in terms of class, the old boy looks to have lengths on most of the field assembled.  

With James McDonald making the trip over from Hong Kong, the superstar stayer should take a power of beating.  

2. Trix of the Trade (7)

Runs fitter for three runs back but is a slight question mark over 1800m.  

Colin Webster’s gelding finished midfield in this same race last year, but he did appear a little one-paced in the run home over the mile in the Railway two weeks ago.  

3. Zoumon (15)

Sydney-based gelding Zoumon has made the trip West coming off a last-start runner-up effort in the Five Diamonds.  

The Zoustar five-year-old led for the majority before being grabbed by Unspoken at the 100m mark, a performance he can only improve on sticking to the same trip with fitness now on his side.  

The Waterhouse and Bott-trained gelding won a Stakes race on the Sunshine Coast third-up last time in work, and he should be benefit from another forward showing under Damien Oliver.  

4. Marocchino (3)

Marocchino has mixed his form this time in work, winning the Asian Beau three runs back before a couple of forgive efforts from wide gates in both the Lee Steere and Railway Stakes.  

He’s cashed a cheque on five occasions over this trip but has struggled at the top level in the past. 

Jason Whiting has plenty of experience in the saddle, but it’s tough to see him challenging for a place.  

5. Dom To Shoot (1)

Looks ready to run a big race third-up from a spell.  

The son of Shooting To Win has found the money in his last four starts, making up a stack of ground for third in the Railway a fortnight ago from a slightly wide position.  

He was beaten just over three lengths by Amelia’s Jewel in last year’s edition, but has really returned to form this prep. If he can get back early and svae his best for late again, another top five finish isn’t out of the question.  

6. Forgot You (13) 

Impressive winner of a Stakes race on Melbourne Cup Day where he beat home previous Victoria Derby winner, Warning.  

His effort in the Railway was very plain, but he can be forgiven after jumping from one of the widest gates.  

Deep into his prep, there’s no knock on his fitness, but he does lose some class in the saddle. 

7. Casino Seventeen (16)

Bit of an Ascot specialist having missed the money only once from 10 starts.  

He’s been in good form leading into his first Group 1 assignment, overcoming a four-wide ride in transit a couple of weeks ago to finish runner-up in a Stakes race over much further.  

Getting back in trip is a big plus, but he does lose the class of William Pike.  

8. Mojo Rhythm (4)

Could be the one at knockout odds worth having something on.  

The son of Playing God was impressive winning the Peters Stakes two back over shorter, winding up with a huge run down the outside to get up in his final few strides.  

He was far from disgraced running fifth in the Railway, enjoying a similar tempo and making up good ground in the run home.  

At peak fitness, he should run another big race providing he handles the extra weight.  

9. River Rubicon (9)

This son of Rubick has been up for a while and it might be starting to show. 

Stephen Wolfe’s five-year-old was only fair to the line from out wide in a Stakes race two weeks ago, handing in a similar effort the run prior over the track and distance.  

Based on recent form, he’d need to improve lengths to be a factor here.  

10. Bustler (5)

Impressive winner of the Railway that is now hoping to become just the fifth horse to the double.  

Neville Parnham’s mare relished the step up to the mile in his third run back, coasting up out wide entering the final turn before letting down well to score by a length.  

This sets up a little differently in terms of tempo, but he did see out the trip quite nicely in last year’s edition.  

Overall, the son of Playing God tends to hand in an honest effort more often than not, and with one of the Parnham’s in the saddle again, he should be given every chance coming off the speed.  

11. Alsephina (6)

Tough to argue with the record of this Star Turn mare.  

Although she’s yet to win this prep, the Williams-trained five-year-old has put together nine wins from 14 starts so far – winding up late to finish runner-up in the Railway last time out.  

The fact William Pike has opted to remain in the saddle tells you all you need to know – a mare the champion jockey has had a very high opinion of leading into the Carnival. 

The fact Zaaki has accepted makes this another tough assignment, but stripping fitter fourth-up with a weight advantage over some of her rivals, she prove very hard to hold out.  

12. Searchin’ Roc’s (12)

Searchin’ Roc’s was strong to the line first-up in the Farnley Stakes at Belmont, but her efforts since have left a lot to be desired.  

She loomed coming out of the turn in the Railway a fortnight ago but weakened badly to finish nearly five lengths off.  

Unplaced in two tries over 1800m, she’s hard to entertain.  

13. The Velvet Queen (11)

A slow start from a wide gate cost the daughter of Universal Ruler two weeks ago in the Railway, beaten over four lengths in the end. 

She hasn’t won since she took out a BM84 here over the mile back in February, and I’m really not sure she’s an 1800m horse at this stage of her career.  

14. Be Optimistic (2)

Be Optimistic has rough each-way claims despite the big rise in class.  

Luke Fernie’s mare has been in winning form of late, narrowly winning the Kalgoorlie Cup two back before a a solid effort from a tricky gate to take out the Scahill Cup by a handy margin.  

She’s held her form nicely for a mare that has been up since August, and with a decent record over 1800m, a place wouldn’t shock.  

15. Zipaway (14)

This looks the next logical step for Zipaway following his W.A. Guineas win on Railway Day.  

The son of Playing God stalked the speed nicely under Steven Parnham, patiently waiting for a lane to open up before the pair kicked clear to win with plenty left to give. 

This is his first look at 1800m, but with upside and improvement still to come, he could prove a real threat in the late stages.  

16. A Lot Of Good Men (8)

A Lot Of Good Men continues to hand in strong efforts, albeit against weaker company.  

Trevor Andrews’ colt was runner-up to Zipaway in the Guineas a fortnight earlier, finding the line nicely from a three-wide position with plenty of pressure coming late.  

He’s another one that has plenty of fitness on his side, and with 4.5kg off, there’s a bit to like about him at double figures.