Ramsey preparing for South Australian pilgrimage with Warialda Warrior

The John Ramsey-trained Warialda Warrior will contest Saturday’s Port Adelaide Guineas. Image: Racing Photograqphy.

John Ramsey is dreaming big with the well-named Warialda Warrior, with feature races in South Australia on the three-year-old’s agenda. 

Racing second-up at Dubbo on Sunday, the Scone trainer entered the well-supported favourite in the 1600m Benchmark 58 Handicap, and the Saxon Warrior gelding was a class above his rivals when cruising to an easy win. 

While it was just his second win at start number eight, Ramsey is setting Warialda Warrior for Saturday’s Listed Port Adelaide Guineas (1800m) at Morphettville, where he has drawn gate two.

If all goes to plan, Ramsey hopes his up-and-coming stayer will contest the Group 3 $150,000 Chairman’s Stakes (2000m) at Morphettville on April 27 ahead of his Grand Final, which will be the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500m) on May 4.

“Daniel Northey is with him now, and they’re on their way to Adelaide,” Ramsey told NSW Country and Picnic Racing.

“The South Australia Derby on May 4 is the main goal, but the plan was to win at Dubbo, which was a bit of a trial after he was unlucky at Scone last start, then send him to Adelaide.

“He’s nominated for the Port Adelaide Guineas on Saturday, and we’re hoping he’ll get in. If he pulls up well, that’s the next race. 

“Then he’ll back up in the Chairman’s Stakes on the 27th before the Derby.”

It isn’t the first time Ramsey has tested the Scone-trained galloper in black-type company, with Warialda Warrior contesting the $2 million Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on November 4. 

Beaten nine lengths by Riff Rocket, Warialda Warrior wasn’t disgraced with Darry ‘Digger’ McLellan in the saddle, finishing strongly from the rear of the field to finish eighth, beating home eight rivals and pocketing $40,000 in prize money for connections.

Ramsey said the plan to make the pilgrimage for the South Australian Derby was set in stone following his run at Flemington.

“We planned it out after his trip to Melbourne,” Ramsey confirmed.

“He handled the trip fine, ate up and travelled well. There were no dramas at all.”

Ramsey still hasn’t confirmed a jockey for Saturday, but he wasn’t in a rush. 

“All the Melbourne jockeys are going over there, so I’m sitting on the fence and waiting to see who’s available,” he said. 

While races closer to home were an option, the boutique trainer explained that Warialda Warrior’s low benchmark meant he had to ‘think outside the box’. 

“It is a bit outside of the square, and I thought, why not get down to South Australia and give him two more runs and that bit of experience,” Ramsey said. 

“People think I’m mad, and I guess I am a bit, but I am thinking outside of the box, and I think he is up to it.”

Ramsey believes Warialda Warrior will get to two miles later on in his career, meaning the sky’s the limit for the country-trained stayer. 

“I think he will get that trip down the track,” Ramsey said.

“He’s still 12 months away, and he’s a very immature horse. Once his brain catches up to his body, he’ll turn into a good horse.”

Out of Romance Writer, Warialda Warrior was bred by Ramsey and educated by Northey and his partner and Muswellbrook-based trainer, Cassandra Stummer.

Ramsey explained it would be a team effort to have Warialda Warrior trained in Adelaide out of Stuart Gower’s stables. 

“I bred him myself, and I love these stayers. I did everything with him before Daniel and Cassandra (Stummer) educated him,” Ramsey said. 

“They are the best educators in the country; they made a horse out of him.

“Daniel is with him now, and between the two of us, there is always going to be someone there with him that knows him.”