A cool-headed ride from Perth’s premier hoop William Pike and the class of the winning mare Real Love got the job done for the punters in Thursday’s Perth Cup at Ascot Racecourse in W.A.
The pace in this year’s $500,000 Group 2 Golden River Developments Perth Cup (2400m) was tipped to be set by Arthur Mortimer’s Zentsov Street gelding Kirov Boy after he won the A.T.A. Handicap by a huge seven and three-quarter lengths last time out.
In a surprise for everyone, including jockey Pike, though it was Adam Durrant’s four-year-old daughter of Desert King Real Love who was best out of the barriers from a gun gate four draw to land the position of leader.
While it wasn’t a role the short-priced $2.60 favourite was used to playing, Pike kept calm and let the class of his ride shine through.
“You can’t panic and it is what it is but it’s the last place I thought I would be,” Pike, who also won the 2005 Perth Cup aboard the Lindsey Smith-trained Crown Prosecutor, told Perth Now after the New Year’s Day win.
“But you can get away with it when you have a good horse who is in form.”
Midway through the Perth Summer Racing Carnival classic on Thursday Real Love was challenged by Kirov Boy and his rider Danny Miller who moved from the back of the field to put the pressure on the front running favourite.
Heading towards the top of the home straight however Real Love shrugged him off, much to Pike’s wonder.
“I thought Kirov Boy was going to go past us but she kicked and was very strong,” Pike said.
With Kirov Boy accounted for, a new challenger moved forward on the corner in the form of the Daniel Morton-trained Red Blast who came off a nice second behind Railway Stakes winner Elite Belle in the Group 2 C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m) from December 20.
Looking vulnerable heading down the straight, Real Love showed just how good a horse she was to dig deep and pull away from Red Blast and his jockey Jerry Noske this time hitting the line running away.
She had one and a half lengths to spare over the runner-up Red Blast ($9) while Kirov Boy ($13) did well to hang on for third another one and a quarter lengths away in this year’s Perth Cup trifecta.
Real Love’s owner-breeders Bob and Sandra Peters celebrated their fifth Perth Cup victory following earlier success with Western Jewel (December 2011), the fellow Durrant-trained Lords Ransom (2010), the aforementioned Pike-ridden Crown Prosecutor (2005) and Field Officer (1993).
The Perth Cup result was also their 15th feature race win at Ascot this season so far.
Along with Western Jewel, Talent Show (2013) is the other most recent mare before Real Love to beat home the boys in the Perth Cup – a race that has been dominated by the female gallopers of late.
Real Love enjoyed her third straight victory on January 1 after a two and a half-length effort in the Group 3 Queen’s Cup (2200m) and a half-length success in the Listed W.A. St. Leger (2100m) in December.
She heads to the paddock now with a tidy record of five wins and six minor placings for 13 career starts and $656,310 in total prize money earned.
Based on her star form this season, Real Love could be interstate bound for a shot at eastern-state glory next time in according to a very happy Durrant.
“She is showing exceptional things,” he said.
“There is no reason why she couldn’t be competitive in the right race over east.”
One possible autumn racing option could be to go to South Australia in March for a shot at the $400,000 Group 1 Adelaide Cup (3200m) at Morphettville, which last year’s Perth Cup winner Black Tycoon ran a neck away second behind Outback Joe in.