Grant Williams’ dual Group 1 winning mare Delicacy is the headline final acceptor in a capacity field of stayers for Ascot Racecourse’s $500,000 Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) this Saturday in WA.
Sixteen guaranteed starters plus four emergency runners make up the field for the 2016 Perth Cup field on January 2, with Al Maher four-year-old Delicacy to carry the 59kg top weight.
To win the SA Oaks – Derby double winner from this winter gone will need to set a new weight carrying record in the mile and a half Perth Summer Racing Carnival feature, but she’s in the right form to do so.
She comes off an effortless win as the odds-on favourite in the Group 2 C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m), her first win since the Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) in May of 2015, and is tipped to appreciate the step back up in distance this weekend.
Perth’s premier hoop William Pike jumps off the favourite’s back however and the jockey that rode Delicacy for her two elite level wins in Adelaide as a three-year-old, Peter Hall, has the call-up on Saturday.
Karnup horseman Williams is also represented in this summer’s Perth Cup field by Pike’s mount Neverland, the four-year-old daughter of Big Brown getting in on the 54kg minimum.
Meeting her better fancied stablemate five kilograms better in the weights, Neverland had her final lead-up in last Wednesday’s Listed A.T.A. Stakes (2200m) at the track when runner-up to Bedamijo as the beaten favourite.
She and Pike did it tough from a wide barrier 13 of 16 draw that day and connections, including Bob and Sandra Peters will be hoping for better luck when the Perth Cup barriers are announced.
ATA Stakes winner Bedamijo is also high up the Perth Cup betting markets for this weekend’s rematch, the Tara Izstein-trained Helenus mare the veteran eight-year-old in the field.
She posted her 10th win at her 50th career start last week carrying 55kg to victory over Neverland and drops a kilo in the Perth Cup with regular rider Shaun O’Donnell continuing his association.
Following Delicacy in the Perth Cup weights meanwhile as the only other two acceptors above the minimum are the Adam Durrant-trained Real Love (57kg) and Paula Wagg’s Balmont Girl (56kg).
Five-year-old Desert King mare Real Love was last seen in the winner’s stall when taking out the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) first-up back in late October and comes off a brave fourth to Delicacy in the CB Cox Stakes from December 19.
Balmont Girl also ran in the CB Cox Stakes but could only manage to finish seventh.
O’Donnell rode her for the seventh time on the trot that day but is replaced this weekend by Patrick Carbery.
Lark Hill’s Durrant is also represented in the Perth Cup this season by outside hope Tower Of Lonhro and Respondent who was far from disgraced carrying 59kg to fourth in the ATA Stakes on December 23.
Other notable Perth Cup hopes include Arthur Mortimer’s six-year-old Kirov Boy out to atone for a second last as a $31 outsider in the CB Cox Stakes and ATA Stakes fifth-placed four-year-old Properantes for local horseman Colin Webster.
Perth Cup barriers are due for release shortly.