Karnup-based horseman Grant Williams is likely to add blinkers to the gear of his W.A.T.C. Derby winner Respondent when he takes on his two last start conquerors in Thursday’s Perth Cup.
Last time out on December 20 the four-year-old Haradsun gelding put in a stellar effort to run only half a length away third behind Real Love (1st) and Balmont Girl (2nd) in the $100,000 Listed Perth Ice Works W.A. St. Leger (2100m).
He will now return to Ascot Racecourse on New Year’s Day for one of the Perth Summer Racing Carnival highlights, the $492,575 Group 2 Golden River Developments Perth Cup (2400m).
Pre-field Perth Cup betting markets at Ladbrokes are firmly led by Adam Durrant’s W.A. St. Leger winning mare Real Love.
The four-year-old daughter of Desert King is a $2.60 to add the Perth Cup trophy to her cabinet, Real Love having finished outside the top three in just two of her 12 career starts to date.
Runner-up to Balmont Girl, who is the current $4.80 second favourite for the Perth Cup this week, in the Group 3 W.A. Oaks (2400m) in March, Real Love was also tested over the mile and a half when third behind Respondent in the Group 2 W.A.T.C. Derby (2400m) one run later during the autumn.
A six month spell followed for the Peters Investments syndicated stayer who has won three of her five runs for the spring – summer season.
Two back she beat home Son Of Something by two and a half lengths in the Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2200m) that shot her to the top of the futures Perth Cup odds.
She secured that favouritism for the January 1st feature then with her W.A. St. Leger success.
Third past the post in that race Respondent was also far from disgraced however, especially as he was blocked for a run right up until the final 100 metres when he got to the inside late and hit the line strongly.
His trainer Williams how rates him a better chance at an upset Perth Cup result than his $12 price suggests, as does breeder-owner Bob Peters who was thrilled to see him improve on a seventh in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) to Elite Belle and 13th to Sydney raider Moriarty in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) earlier this preparation.
“He puts in, but it was just the last 20 or 30m where he got his head in the air last start,” Peters told The West Australian this week.
“He looked like he was going to win, but he didn’t quite go on with it.
“It was a big improvement on what he’s been doing.”
In an attempt to help him close the gap on the two better mares in the St. Leger, Williams is seriously considering putting the blinkers on Respondent for the Perth Cup.
He hasn’t donned them since January but was able to win at Bunbury with the shades on for the first time 12 months ago.
Following that breakthrough victory Respondent quickly rose through the ranks that campaign winning back-to-back black-types before his Derby success in his first run over the 2400m.
Peters hopes the possible addition of blinkers and the Perth Cup weights will now work in his favour on Thursday.
The horse carried 58kg to Real Love and Balmont Girl’s 56kg in the St. Leger.
For the Perth Cup he is allocated the 54kg minimum meaning he meets Real Love (54kg) equal and Paula Wagg’s Railway Stakes runner-up Balmont Girl (57kg) on a three kilo advantage.
“He meets the others that beat him a bit better at the weights,” Peters said.
Regular rider Brad Parnham stays on Respondent for the Perth Cup.
Peters and his wife Sandra also race Real Love, and he admits that he doesn’t know how to rate her form compared to that coming out of the $250,000 CB Cox Stakes (2100m) from the same day.
“It’s hard to tell the form from the St Leger compared to the Cox,” he said.
The CB Cox Stakes was won by Railway Stakes champion Elite Belle who beat home Red Blast by a long neck with Bass Strait a further quarter length away for third.
Elite Belle does not back-up in the Perth Cup but runner-up Red Blast ($12) and Bass Strait ($15) will both be there trying to prove the form of the Cox Stakes this summer.
“I don’t know whether Real Love would have beaten Elite Belle,” Peters added.
“Based on last start I think Real Love is a bit short in the Cup market.”
The 2015 Perth Cup barrier draw takes place this evening.