W.A.’s Muchea-based horseman Alan Mathews will chase a record-equalling seventh Perth Cup success on New Year’s Day confirming plans to back-up his gutsy Ted Van Heemst Stakes winner Pounamu in the January 1 showdown.
A six-year-old son of Authorized, Pounamu continued his ace Perth Summer Racing Carnival campaign over the weekend narrowly saluting in last Saturday’s Group 2 $400,000 Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2200m).
The victory saw the gallant grey back-up from a win in the Group 1 $1 million Kingston Town Classic (1800m) from December 9 and beat home the same horse to the line, Material Man.
In the Ted Van Heemst Stakes, formerly known as the C.B. Cox Stakes, it was the Justin Warwick-trained Material Man who jumped the $2.05 favourite.
Jockey Lucy Warwick had the top fancy out leading looking to go all-the-way up front, before a late challenge came from Pounamu and his hoop Patrick Carbery.
Carbery had the galloper settled third in the run before moving up alongside the frontrunner Material Man and turn the closing stages of the race into a two-horse affair.
In the end, Pounamu ($2.60) just had enough to outstay the brave Material Man and he charged home for a short-neck triumph as Zarantz ($9) ran fourth lengths back for third.
“I just thought with Justin’s horse (Material Man) that when it came to the crunch we would out-sprint it,” Mathews told The West Australian post-victory on Saturday.
“I thought he was a bit out of his comfort zone being a bit closer to what he’s used to, but Paddy’s riding in good form and the way Material Man raced, you didn’t want to be giving him too much of a head start.”
Carbery was also impressed with the horse’s efforts, the hoop enjoying his third win in the race following previous success on Gilded Venom (2008) and the fellow Mathews-trained Daka’s Gem (2006) who ran an equal first with Scenic Shot just over a decade ago.
“My horse just dug deep and he wants to win now,” Carbery said.
“He’s a different horse than he was 12 months ago.”
Mathews confirmed post-race that Pounamu would back-up on January 1 in the Group 2 $500,000 Perth Cup (2400m) looking to extend the winning streak to three on the trot in the galloper’s first mile and a half assignment.
While not penalised for his Ted Van Heemst Stakes success, Pounamu still has a tough test in the Perth Cup carrying the 59kg top weight in the summer staying classic.
Futures Perth Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au list Pounamu as the $4.80 third elect to salute, while Material Man ($4.40) and Trap For Fools ($4) are the other major players.
Trap For Fools was a late scratching from the Ted Van Heemst Stakes field, trainer Lindsey Smith opting to keep a little extra in the tank for the Poet’s Voice four-year-old who made it six straight wins on December 20 in the Listed A.T.A. Stakes (2200m).