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Perth Cup preview

New Year's Day in Australia brings a swathe of race meetings all around the country, but the highest profile race of the day is the Perth Cup. Often conducted in temperatures nearing the 40C, it's a tough day with a New Year's Eve hangover! This year the forecast is for a far more moderate 29C. Taking the reins with the preview is @BrisburghPhil

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Perth Cup 2015
Group 2, 2400m
1650 local time, 0850 GMT Preview by @BrisburghPhil

Form guide

Another time-honoured race on the Australian racing calendar but it unfortunately lost it’s two mile status after 2008. That year the race failed to attract any Eastern States visitors which pretty much sealed it’s 3200m fate. Interestingly though it has failed to attract any this year either. Food for thought?

Below are the last six winners of the Perth Cup (with relevant stats) since the race became a 2400m event. The last figure in brackets is the weight drop from prior start;

2014 BLACK TYCOON 8G D.Oliver (5) 55.5kg 2.5L 4th Cox Stakes (-3.5kg) $5
2013 TALENT SHOW 6M Jarrad Noske (1) 53.5kg 3L 4th Cox Stakes (-3.5kg) $31
2012 WESTERN JEWEL 5M K.Yuill (1) 52kg 1st (2L) ATA Stakes (-5kg) $7
2011 GUEST WING 4G B.Parnham (8) 52kg 0.3L 2nd ATA Stakes (-2kg) $21
2010 LORDS RANSOM 6G A.Kennedy (2) 55.5kg 1st (1.8L) Cox Stakes (-3.5kg) $3
2009 GUYNO 5G J.Whiting (12) 54kg 6L 7th COx Stakes (-5kg) $9

Pertinent facts:

1. 6/6 dropped 2kg or more from prior start and 5/6 dropped more than 3.5kg

2. No horse has carried more than 55.5kg to win

3. 4/6 drew barriers 1-5 & 5/6 barriers 1-8

4. 3/6 sired by Jeune and 4/6 sired by a British born horse.

5. Only one horse beaten more than 3L at its prior start and two horses beaten 3L or more both ran in WFA Cox Stakes at prior start.

6. Four winners have come out of WFA Cox Stakes (2100m) and two from ATA Handicap (2200m)

7. Five of six have been 5 years old or older.

8. Average winning price $12.16

Taking all this into account I think the most likely winner on a historical basis would appear to be RED BLAST. He has drawn okay in barrier eight. REAL LOVE and RESPONDENT very prominent in historical discussions too, though the St.Leger is yet to produce a winner of this race. It was a far stronger version this year though, and we know both those horses are at least capable of matching it with those in the Cox on previous form. RL too short a price though, and maybe both she and Respondent are a bit shy of the best age? Bass Strait looks a nice history-based hope too but his very wide barrier is a big hurdle to overcome.

Race Tempo: KIROV BOY is almost certain to ensure this race is a true 2400m staying test as he did in the ATA Stakes last start, setting up a massive lead and sustaining the margin to the finish line. Chester Road, Global Flirt & Lucciola should be on pace in the race, whilst most of the rest of the field will be biding their time midfield or rearward in the race. Kirov Boy is probably one dimensional in that he will have to go quickly to give himself a chance to win. He is not the type of horse who can lead and win off a slow pace, and the plan will be to take the last sprint away from those who have greater late acceleration.

The worry for some of the favoured horses here (out of the Cox & St. Leger), is that both races weren’t true staying tests. The time in both was quite pedestrian compared to previous years (last year's winner Black Tycoon would have run three seconds quicker when fourth in Cox 2013), so the trick might be to find which horses were most disadvantaged in both those races, with a view to this race.

Runner Analysis:

1. MR MOET- Doesn’t seem to have recaptured his best form of 2012 and early 2013, and though he was ridden upside down last start near the lead, he probably should have done a bit better given the tempo was fairly pedestrian. Out of that race he meets the likes of Red Blast, Bass Strait, Operational & God Has Spoken 5kg worse off at the weights, so it’s hard to see him beating any of them home in this. Ideal barrier his biggest positive.

2. IHTSAHYMN – Had every chance in the Cox Stakes, and finds himself horribly in at the weights here out of that race. Not only that he was completely outstayed in the Derby by Respondent last April, now has to concede that horse 4.5kg which is just ridiculous. How can you concede him much of a chance given that factor?

3. CHESTER ROAD- Is another poorly weighted out of the Cox Stakes, and given he hasn’t done anything remarkable for two years (largely due to injury), it is just a travesty that he isn’t on the minimum weight in this. He ran an improved race in the Cox, but was the leader in a slowly run race. Can’t have him in this though he was a very promisiing horse in 2012.

4. BALMONT GIRL- Would be a distinct chance in the race, but she (unfathomably) has to give Respondent & Real Love 3kg in weight from the St.Leger. Real Love beat her home, and Respondent was a nostril behind her in that race. Respondent has a 5kg weight turnaround off that meeting, and also beat her home comfortably in the Derby. She has drawn poorly too which doesn’t help.

5. ASK ME NICELY- is the first of the horses we look at down on the minimum weight here (there are 14 of them!). She rates a chance on her excellent (and surprise) third in this race last year, but hasn’t won in 18 starts since. She was also a well beaten 8L second in the ATA Stakes last start so it’s hard to see her winning. She has drawn well so perhaps a chance of a placing, given she can run the distance strongly

6. BASS STRAIT- Looks good historically and he drops nicely in weight from the WFA Cox Stakes. His run there though didn’t have as much merit as that of Red Blast, and they meet at level weights again here. And he has drawn a far worse barrier than that horse. He is also a bit of a query at 2400m, especially in a fast run race, as this should be. I can’t completely leave him out, but he will need to improve considerably to win. Placing is a definite possibility though if he gets a decent run in transit.

7. CLASSIQUE IVORY- Really is struggling for form and can’t see him figuring in this.

8. GLOBAL FLIRT- Was a surprise winner of the Tatts Cup at massive odds three starts ago which was his first glimpse of form for some time. But that form has deserted him at his past couple and his hopes look forlorn from a wide barrier.

9. GOD HAS SPOKEN- May well be the best rough chance in the race given his run in the Cox wasn’t too bad given his rearward position before the turn. He was doing his best work late. He ran a surprise second in this race last year (with 1.5kg more), off a far worse run in a faster run Cox, so he can make his presence felt at massive odds. This will be his fifth attempt at winning this race, with his best two efforts a second and a fourth. Both were off wide barriers, and the failures when drawn in. He has drawn 10 this year so that might be a positive. Not getting any younger but he is very battle hardened which might negate that factor. Definitely an each-way hope.

10. KIROV BOY- Put himself in the picture for this with a resounding win in the ATA Stakes last start (see comments in race tempo above). Veteran jockey Danny Miller jumped off him after the win and stated he wished the Perth Cup was 3200m, which I didn’t take as a vote of confidence. He looked no hope of gaining a start in this race before that effort, as his class didn’t appear to warrant one. All of a sudden he is a $7 second favourite. The time he ran in the ATA (2200m) didn’t rank all that highly against previous renditions of that race, but it looks quite good up against the Cox and St. Leger times run recently (2100m). I doubt he is good enough to beat some of these at level weights, but I could be wrong. He looks to be in the top half dozen chances though if he can repeat that last effort.

11. LUCCIOLA- Is a restricted class mare who strung a remarkable seven consecutive wins together during the Winter. Six of those were at Belmont though and she has struggled to win in the higher class races at at Ascot (0/6) this Spring/Summer. She had every chance up on the pace in a slowly run race in the Cox, so it does appear she is a bit short of this class. The 3kg weight drop won’t hurt though, and she has drawn to advantage and always tries her best. Some hope of a placing for her.

12. OPERATIONAL- Ran a slightly better trial for this than God Has Spoken in the Cox Stakes, and he did have form around Red Blast during the Winter. He ran poorly in this race last year when fourth up from a spell, but interesting to note his third up form has always been an improvement on his first and second up starts in a campaign. He is third up here so can improve markedly especially with a 5kg weight drop. He does seem to be a much better horse at Belmont though, and he has drawn a poor barrier. A fast run 2400m could be a query, but he still ranks as one of the better rough odds chances.

13. REAL LOVE- Comes in as a deserved favourite off a win in the St. Leger last start, and of all of the horses in that race she was the one least suited by a slow tempo. She seems to be the 4yo that has improved most from the Autumn, and a look at the Derby replay in April doesn’t put you off her chances. It was a quite strange ride by the jockey in that race, almost suicidal might be a better description. She made a mid-race move from the back, off a slow tempo, but the moment that happened, the pace quickened, and she was left three wide up on the pace. That put paid to her hopes but she really did fight hard the last 200m to more than hold her position against the winner and runner up. She is by the same sire as Makybe Diva (Desert King), and may well be the best Australian-based staying mare by that sire since. She should cope with a fast run race (the Derby had pressure), and has drawn ideally with a 2kg weight drop form last start. Very hard to beat but I think her price is a bit too short, given she meets Respondent 2kg worse for the Derby defeat, and St. Leger win.

14. RED BLAST- Put in a career-best run in the Cox Stakes last start, and especially so given the torrid run he had in the race. He was merely a handicapper coming into that race, but a good second there gives him WFA class status, and puts him in the well weighted category here, dropping 5kg. I’m just a little suspicious about the merits of that run given the overall time of the race. Where did the sudden improvement come from, and can he go on with it here? You are getting double figure odds from a decent barrier to find out, so he is worth a bet. Also note his prior run in the Queens Cup was an unlucky one behind Real Love, though he wouldn’t have beaten her even with more fortune. She meets him on the same weight terms here, and she did jump 800m in distance going into that race. Not sure he can beat her unless he improves again off that last effort.

15. RESPONDENT – Looks a leading chance here given he won the Derby in April, and has absolutely no weight penalty from it. His form hasn’t been as good this Summer admittedly, but his last run in the St. Leger was a glimpse of his best. His Derby win was super in decent time, with his last 200m quite explosive. Maybe he was advantaged by being held up at the rear in that race, but he really did accelerate quickly in the straight, to put the issue beyond doubt very quickly. Personally I have been waiting for him to get back to 2400m, and expected a better showing last start. I got it and the Blinkers go on for this. The reasoning is he got his head up when making a possible winning bid last start. That was supposedly the difference between winning and losing, though in reality I think Real Love was going away from him at the finish. Not sure the Blinkers are a positive (if they are he will win), but I think his double figure odds are. He is a little awkwardly drawn but I’m not sure that is any concern. He looks the main threat to Real Love, and (excepting his overall form) is one of the best weighted horses I’ve seen for quite a while.

16. SON OF SOMETHING- Started a warm favourite in the ATA Stakes but was blown away there by Kirov Boy. He lost a race plate though so perhaps that was a legitimate reason, and he does meet Kirov Boy 3kg better for that run. He is a bit hard to gauge here at 2400m, not having started beyond 2200m, but I just doubt he is quite good enough to trouble the likes of Real Love & Respondent at level weights. He meets Real Love 1.5kg better for meeting her in the Queens Cup but she was very dominant in that off an 800m distance rise, so doubtful he can turn the tables. Especially so from the wide barrier.

17. STARLIGHT LADY- Is first emergency here and her form just doesn’t suggest she can win a race of this calibre.

18. BEDAMIJO- 2nd emergency and deserves to be the extreme outsider in this field if he does gain a start.

Conclusion

REAL LOVE looks the one to beat, but at the odds on offer I’m keen to select RESPONDENT at roughly 5 times the price. He looks the one to have truly beaten the handicapper given his Derby win, and whilst his form hasn’t been quite up to par this preparation, he looks to be on the way back to his best, and the 2400m could be his biggest asset.

RED BLAST has to be considered a winning chance given his last run at WFA and a 5kg weight drop. KIROV BOY will give his backers a run for their money but might not have the class to see it through.

Best at a rough price appear to be GOD HAS SPOKEN & OPERATIONAL. Both are capable of getting into the placings at least.

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