In a week that’s becoming a familiar scenario this season, Playing God increased his lead at the top of the 2022-23 WA Sires’ premiership with three Ascot winners that banked in excess of $170,000.

Today’s TBWA table has Playing God leading the ladder with earnings of $4.31 million and, in a sign of things to come, his nearest four rivals – Trade Fair (GB), Demerit, Blackfriars & Oratorio – are all deceased.

Playing Marika won the Diggers Cup (1800m) on Anzac Day before Bustler and Mojo Rhythm doubled up at Ascot on Saturday.  The 7yo mare registered an all-important black-type victory in the LR Grandstand Cup (1500m) in March before an uncharacteristic failure at her most recent outing in the LR Old Comrade Stakes (1600m) last month.

With the breeding barn beckoning, Playing Marika defied an alarming drift in betting ($8.50 out to $19) with a two-length victory over Last of the Line (Blackfriars).  “She disappointed us last time but was run off her feet,” trainer Steph Bakranich explained.  “She’s better held up and the wet track also helped today.

“She’s been working super and Steven (Parnham) settled her perfectly on the leader’s back.”

Playing Marika is a homebred for Livio and Renato Divitini and is closely-related to their speed-machine Nerodio who is also from Playing God’s first crop foaled in 2015.  Her dam Just Marika (Grandera) is a stakes-performed half-sister to Doyoudare (LR WA Tatt’s Cup)

Bustler was rated the best horse in his stable by Neville Parnham earlier this season and the classy 3yo hasn’t let him down with a strike-rate that reached 5 wins from 9 starts in the Vale Dean Holland Hcp (1400m) on Saturday.

Bustler (3g Playing God – Cosmah Domination by Oratorio) completed an Ascot hat-trick in the LR Fairetha Stakes (1400m) at the start of his spring campaign and then finished second and fifth to Amelia’s Jewel in the G2 WA Guineas (1600m) and G1 Northerly Stakes (1800m) in November.

Resuming last month, he wasn’t sighted in the G3 Roma Cup (1100m) and $4 million The Quokka (1200m) and appreciated a significant drop in grade for a partnership managed by Ridgeport Farm owner Santo Guagliardo.

“He  put them away once Kesh (Dhurun) got him in the clear,” Parnham said.  “We expected he would do it pretty comfortably and that sent his earnings over $500,000.  We will see how he pulls up and look ahead to the (LR) Belmont Guineas (1600m).”

Mojo Rhythm (Photo / Western Racepix) launched a powerful finish to round out another very successful afternoon for Playing God in the Azure Painting Handicap (1400m).

“He’s always shown potential and new trainer Mitch Pateman believes he can keep rising to carnival-class later this year.

“He’s a serious horse and probably the best on looks to come through our barn.

“His trackwork has been exceptional and when Jarrad (Noske) pushed the button, I knew he would be hard to hold out.”

Mojo Rhythm (4g Playing God – Saddle Me Up by Grey Swallow) is a homebred for David and Ellen Ott and his second-dam Tickle The Peter (Senor Pete) was a $3,000 buy for the south-west couple at the 2009 Inglis Great Southern Sale in Melbourne.

Tickle The Peter was sold carrying Saddle Me Up at Oaklands Junction.  She retired unraced and her 2yo is a filly named Rhythmic Belle (Maschino) with Bruce Watkins and her latest cover was to Playing God’s older brother God Has Spoken in October.

Playing God (Blackfriars) stands for a $33,000 service fee at Darling View Thoroughbreds alongside newcomer Lightsaber ($6,600), Splintex ($11,000) and long-standing residents Patronize and Lucky Street whose fees are available on application.  Service fees (inc GST)