Prolific W.A. owner-breeder Bob Peters chases an eighth Perth Cup success in the New Year’s Day feature race this summer and is out to add class mare Royal Star to his contingent in the staying showdown.
The Group 2 $500,000 Perth Cup (2400m) steals the show at Ascot Racecourse on January 1 and this week at the track the two traditional lead-up events take place.
A host of potential Perth Cup horses will do battle today in the Listed $100,000 A.T.A. Stakes (2200m) before the Group 2 $400,000 Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m), formerly the C.B. Cox Stakes, takes place on Saturday.
One of the standout acceptors for the former is the Grant & Alana Williams-raced Redoute’s Choice mare Royal Star.
The four-year-old currently sits as the equal $7 third favourite in pre-field Perth Cup odds through Ladbrokes.com.au, markets led by the ultra-consistent Trap For Fools ($4.40).
Perth Racing received just the eight final acceptances for the Ted Van Heemst Stakes field this year, including Trap For Fools who is also accepted for today’s A.T.A. Stakes.
Trainer Lindsey Smith confirmed plans to possibly run the galloper twice in three days with the Poet’s Voice four-year-old chasing his sixth win on the trot in the A.T.A. Stakes before a likely back-up into the Ted Van Heemst Stakes.
Royal Star meanwhile was scratched from Saturday’s race in favour of the A.T.A. Stakes and was last seen running two and a quarter lengths back sixth to Pounamu in the Group 1 $1 million Kingston Town Classic (1800m) on December 9 as a $41 roughie.
“It was a very good run last start,” Peters told The West Australian.
She is set to relish the step-up in distance in the A.T.A. Stakes boasting winning form up to 2200m and is the red hot $2.25 favourite and firming to salute in the mid-week feature.
Peters took his Perth Cup tally up to an equal record seventh with owner Paddy Connolly thanks to the success of Star Exhibit on New Year’s Eve last year.
Star Exhibit and the also Peters-owned Western Jewel (2011) both completed the A.T.A. Stakes – Perth Cup double that he has set Royal Star for this season.
“We’ll see whether she stays the distance,” Peters added.
“Sometimes they get it as three-year-olds, but not as four-year-olds.
“She’s up against Trap For Fools, who keeps winning. I’ve got no idea if she can beat him.”
Jarrad Noske retains the ride on Royal Star in the A.T.A. Stakes field from barrier seven.
Peters will still have a Perth Cup hope in the Ted Van Heemst Stakes on the weekend with Cosmic Storm in gate three.
“She was weighted about the same in both races this week,” he explained.
“She hasn’t gone past 1800 since she was a three-year-old, so it will be a test to see whether she stays, too.”
Cosmic Storm is a $17 outsider in Perth Cup markets and has finished 10th in both her latest starts in the Railway Stakes and Kingston Town Classic.