PAUL Stuart has a stranglehold on the Group 1 Perth Cup after qualifying three runners for next Saturday’s $140,000-to-the-winner final.
His first heat runner to score on Saturday night was a member of the highly successful Kinloch Brae x Starlight Delly litter, Astronomize, in heat one. The red brindle dog stepped beautifully from box four before being issued a challenge from the super-strong Cosmic Wise (box three) down the back.
Astronomize reacted brilliantly to his competitor, slipping into another gear and sprinting away to score in a fast 30.05. Astronomize will be having just his ninth start in the Perth Cup final.
In the second heat Astronomize’s litter brother Starlight Jack started an ominous $1.50 favourite from box three. Going into the race as a winner of 12 from 20, the black dog was beaten for speed early by Jason Thompson’s Xtreme Knocka but put in a tenacious performance to find the front, albeit narrowly, to win by a head in 30.26.
Xtreme Knocka gets a start in the final and a chance to redeem himself after finishing as the fastest second placegetter.
Stuart’s third winner was in heat four when the monstrous 38-kilogram Quartz Bale (box one) recovered from an average beginning, railing through to take the early lead and romping away for an ultra-impressive nine-and-a-quarter length triumph in a hot 30.12. The light fawn son of Yahoo Omar and Zambola Bale has now won 10 from 14 with two minor placings.
Another runner from the Kinloch Brae x Starlight Delly litter won heat three with the John Carmody-trained Downlight showing blistering early speed to cross the field from box eight, leading throughout in a handy 30.51. Remarkably, yet another brother filled the quinella spot, Stuart’s Romeo’s Comet.
Heat five was set to be an exciting affair with old rivals On Coin (box one) and Star Recall (box three) meeting for the first time in 2015. While On Coin has been struggling with injuries, Star Recall has enjoyed a tremendous few months with her new trainer Jeff Britton, seizing December’s Group 1 Sale Cup.
Back to her home state, the daughter of High Earner and No Recall exploded from the boxes, never looking in danger throughout her 30.17 win. On Coin was never in contention, finishing at the tail of the field. This will be the second year Star Recall has contested the Perth Cup, finishing third in last year’s event behind Keybow.
Jason Thompson qualified his second runner for the 2015 Perth Cup with Whodat Knockin’ victorious in the sixth heat. The son of Knocka Norris and Shanlyn Supreme assumed the lead in the back straight and raced away to score by seven-and-a-half lengths in 30.55. Thompson is no stranger to the Perth Cup, training 2001 winner Sammy Mint.
The final qualifier loomed as the most exciting of the night between Victorians My Bro Fabio (box eight) and Dyna Double One (box seven). The latter jumped well and trailed the leader Burundi (box one) around the first turn and into the back straight before checking off its heels and losing momentum when trying to find a run on the rails.
In the meantime, My Bro Fabio, which was a clear last at the first turn, starting circling the field before assuming the lead, stretching out to score by just more than five lengths in 30.47.
The box draw for the Group 1 Perth Cup is as follows:
Box 1 – Star Recall
Box 2 – Astronomize
Box 3 – Whodat Knockin’
Box 4 – Quartz Bale
Box 5 – Xtreme Knocka
Box 6 – Downlight
Box 7 – Starlight Jack
Box 8 – My Bro Fabio
1st Reserve – Cosmic Wise
2nd Reserve – Gone To Heaven