THE narrow nose victory by Ima Wagtail in the $150,000-to-the-winner final of the Perth Cup (Group 1), the first to be run at the new Cannington circuit, and, obviously, the first to be run at the new sprint distance of 520m, is a great fillip for racing in Western Australia.
For veteran trainer John Iwanyk it was his first success in the state’s premier sprint event, but it was also the first time a Perth Cup winner has been sired by a previous Perth Cup winner.
Ima Wagtail’s sire, Oaks Road, won the 2012 Perth Cup by a substantial seven lengths for NSW trainer Mark Gatt. In a kind of weird irony, Oak’s Road’s Perth Cup final contained not a single locally-prepared finalist, consisting instead of five Victorians, two Queenslanders and the solitary New South Welshman.
Oaks Road was also the sire of another locally-trained performer in the 2016 final, Katsuro Sahara, who finished sixth.
Unlike Oaks Road’s final, this year’s Perth Cup final had six of the eight runners from local kennels, with only Shared Equity (third) and Blazin’ Bomber (fifth) having the polish put on them by interstate mentors.
This meant that for the first time since 1999 the Perth Cup has witnessed a locally-trained quinella, with Tiggerlong Await (originally from Victoria), prepared by Paul Stuart, taking the runners-up purse. Of course, Paul won the Perth Cup in 2013 with Dyna Nalin.
Ima Wagtail has really taken to the new Cannington circuit and victory in the Perth Cup made it four starts for four wins on the course.
It’s notable since the advent of the Perth Cup as a group race, group 2 level from 1995 to 1997, and group 1 since then, Nifti Fire (2000), Miss Slick (2009), Dyna Nalin (2013) and Ima Wagtail are the only four winners whose careers have all started in Western Australia.
The only other locally-trained winner since 1995 apart from the above-mentioned four was Bliss Bale, in 1999. Yet Bliss Bale was originally from Victoria.
Ima Wagtail exited box one for his victory, the first time the red rug has passed the post in front since 2007 when Betty’s Angel scored. Nifti Fire also left from the one alley in winning in 2000, becoming the first in a sequence of four red-rugged winners in a row, followed by Sammy Mint (2001), Modern Assassin (2002) and Elgrando (2003).