The early Perth Cup betting picture for the mile and a half summer showdown in W.A. this weekend has the Geoff Durrant & Jason Miller-trained Kia Ora Koutou as the one to beat.
A fifteen-stayer field is engaged for the $500,000 Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday and Kia Ora Koutou gets into the line-up on the 54kg minimum.
It is a kilo less than the Blackfriars four-year-old carried to victory last time out on December 10 in the Listed JRA Trophy (2200m).
Jockey Joseph Azzopardi retains the ride on New Year’s Eve in gate eight as Kia Ora Koutou looks to get the job done for the Perth Cup Day punters.
Current markets on the summer handicap at Ladbrokes.com.au have the 2015 Victoria Derby placegetter at $3.30 to enjoy back-to-back Ascot wins.
He’s been steadily building over his campaign and with the nice weight and his versatility, Kia Ora Koutou shapes-up as a livewire Perth Cup hope.
Heading the field and weights with 59kg is Group 1 winning mare Perfect Reflection.
She is prepared by Grant & Alana Williams and is raced by six-time Perth Cup winning owner Bob Peters.
Last Perth Summer Racing Carnival the same connections took out the race with Delicacy, a champion mare who carried 59kg to victory on the back of a win in the Group 2 CB Cox Stakes (2100m).
That same race ran this season on December 17 as the Ted Van Heemst Stakes and was won by More Than Ready four-year-old Perfect Reflection with 56kg.
She and Perth’s leading jockey William Pike combine again looking to complete the double on the weekend.
There’s no denying the class of Perfect Reflection who won last year’s Kingston Town Classic and placed third in the same race two starts back.
There are genuine queries though about her running out a strong mile and a half going up in weight and meeting many of the same rivals worse in the kilos.
Still the bookmakers have kept her safe in the markets at around $4.80 for the win.
She is joined in the mix by stablemate Neverland out wide in barrier 13, the now five-year-old daughter of Big Brown having placed second in the last edition of the Perth Cup.
Last time out Neverland ran nearly five lengths back eighth in the Ted Van Heemst, but there has been a tickle of money for her to improve and turn the tables in the Perth Cup.
After opening at $26 she has firmed into a $21 chance and is also owned by the prolific Peters Investments.
One of the key chances getting an opportunity in better company is Kia Ora Koutou’s stablemate Star Exhibit.
He is drawn in barrier 10 with Jarrad Noske riding and is at $7.50 to post his third win from his past four starts.
The latest victory, the Statue Of Liberty five-year-old’s fourth from ten starts at Ascot, was only last Saturday in the Listed A.T.A. Stakes (2200m).
Respondent from the Fred Kersley stables ran second in that same lead-up and is at $16 in Perth Cup markets, while the A.T.A. Stakes third placed Dark Musket is at $19.
Tradesman in the wide barrier 14 draw has also earned respect and is at $8 to close the gap on Perfect Reflection after his brave fifth in the Ted Van Heemst.
Robert & Todd Harvey’s Trade Fair gelding carted 59kg from gate 12 of 12 in that Group 2 weight-for-age clash and still finished just over two lengths away in a good Perth Cup tune-up.
The 2016 Perth Cup jumps as Ascot Race 8 on Saturday, December 31, at 5:00pm (local time).