Kersley realistic about Marasco's chances

Trainer Fred Kersley is playing down the prospects of West Australian star Marasco in the Group Two Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot.

Marasco The six-year-old is chasing his second success in the $400,000 1200m feature on Saturday after scoring with Damien Oliver aboard in 2006.

Brad Rawiller will be the new rider for Marasco when he takes on glamour sprinters Takeover Target and Apache Cat in the Winterbottom after William Pike rode him when he was 11th to Gilded Venom in the Group One Railway Stakes (1600m) last Saturday.

Pike was under the impression Marasco would miss the Winterbottom in favour of the Kingston Town Stakes on Saturday week and accepted the ride on the David Hayes-trained Hips Don’t Lie this week.

"I am not that optimistic about his chances. It is a quality field and he is dropping back in trip," Kersley said Wednesday on Perth’s Track Talk.

"He is best suited at weight-for-age and the 1200 metres was once his best distance. However he is getting a bit older these days.

"His run was a lot better then it looked in the Railway Stakes. As I was trying to say in the weeks preceding the race, it is too hard to try and carry those heavy weights against quality horses like he was exposed to in the Railway Stakes.

"In the Winterbottom Stakes we are up against two of the best sprinters in the world and we will not be able to give them too much of a start. If he can’t race handy to them we will be in trouble again."

Seven of Marasco’s 13 wins have been over Saturday’s distance.

Takeover Target heads TAB Sportsbet’s fixed odds market for the Winterbottom at $2.50 with Apache Cat the second favourite at $3.

Local hope Danny Beau is on the third line of betting at $5.50 with Marasco the only other runner under double-figure odds at $9. Danny Beau recently broke the track record set by his infamous sibling, Miss Andretti.