December 29, 2011
words by ANDREW CARTER IN PERTH
photography by COURTESY OF PERTH RACING
WA's premier staying event, the $400,000 Group 2 Perth Cup, has been thrown wide open following Tuesday's barrier draw when the chances of long-time pre-post favourite Kincaple nosedived after he drew "the river" in gate 18.
The barrier draw almost certainly ensured the 2400m Cup will develop into an intriguing tactical battle in the early stages after other leading chances-God Has Spoken (barrier 13 and to be ridden by Steven Parnham), Battle Emblem (15, Paul Harvey) and Western Jewel (16, Kyra Yuill)-also drew poorly.
Harvey particularly faces a real dilemma whether to chance his arm at the start with Battle Emblem, who has the capacity to settle in a forward position, but also has a tendency to pull very hard if he becomes stirred up in running.
In stark contrast, the remaining two hopes of the powerful combination of owner Bob Peters and trainer Grant Williams, Tranquillity (William Pike) and last start WA St Leger winner Moonlight Bay (Marco Chui) have drawn well in barriers 8 and 6 respectively.
Veteran stayer New Spice, to be ridden by regular rider, apprentice Ryan Hill, is likely to ensure a solid tempo throughout and could take some catching after he drew ideally in gate two, and in his current form is capable of causing an upset result.
The rejuvenated eight-year-old returned to something resembling his top form at his two past starts-when a shock upset 60/1 winner of the Listed Tattersalls Cup, over 2100m at Ascot on November 19, and at his most recent outing when he was run down in the shadows of the post for a long-neck third behind Veracious in the Listed JRA Trophy (2200m, Ascot) on December 3.
Western Jewel, despite her poor draw is probably the least affected of all the fancied runners as her regular pattern is to drift back and be ridden quietly, and the likelihood of a solid speed will ensure that with average luck she will be thereabouts at the finish.
After having little luck at her past two outings, Western Jewel bounced back to her very best form for regular rider Yuill and trainer Grant Williams when she powered home to score impressively in the ATA Handicap (2200m, Ascot) in her final Perth Cup lead up on December 24. The mare also will appreciate a 4.5kg drop in weight from 57.5kg to 53kg.
In stark contrast, Kincaple's nightmare draw has shattered the confidence of trainer Mark Reed and the former Victorian is expected to drift markedly from his current quote of $3.60 with TAB Sportsbet, which is looking decidedly "unders".
The versatile Pentire 6YO faces a near suicidal task if rider Dwayne Dunn presses forward aggressively with a number of runners drawn inside him also likely to be pressing forward at the start. The likelihood of a solid tempo could see Dunn opting to ride the horse more conservatively.
While Kincaple is rock-hard fit and he possesses the staying capacity to sustain a long, searching run, he is going to need all the breaks to go his way and it will require a masterly ride from Dunn.
Kincaple's bad luck at the barrier draw was the second telling blow to his Perth Cup hopes in as many days after the gelding rose 3kg from his original 53kg to 56kg when the top weights, the Peters-owned pair Ranger and Lords Ransom, were both scratched before final acceptances-God Has Spoken also rising 3kg to become the new top weight with 57kg.
In just his first WA preparation under the guidance of Reed, also a leading harness racing trainer, Kincaple has already taken out the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie Cups, and the stable wouldn't have had its confidence of winning the Perth Cup diminished when he lumped 59kg to finish a slashing second behind God Has Spoken in the CB Cox Stakes (WFA, 2100m) at Ascot on December 17.
God Has Spoken, trained by Neville Parnham, is another who returned to something like his outstanding 3YO form when he staged a stunning form reversal to win the Cox Stakes, and, despite the fact he is now being forced to carry the mandatory topweight of 57kg, his class will carry him a long way. Look for him to firm from his current quote of $11.
The Stan Bates-trained Miss Tipsy Topsy emerged as a potential staying star during the early part of the winter and indicated she wasn't far off a return to her best form when badly held up for a run on several occasions in the straight at her most recent start in the St Leger. when unplaced behind Moonlight Bay-she should have finished much closer than 5 lengths from the winner, Moonlight Bay.
She is a much better chance than her current quote of $26 indicates, and she will be ideally suited by the likelihood of a solid tempo.
While the Perth Cup itself is now a wide open contest, the promising Tony Noonan-trained 4YO mare, Ladysea, who was balloted out of the Cup, only needs to jump cleanly to prove one of the best bets on the day in the second event on the card, while Caves Road, despite having his first attempt at 1500m, should send Dwayne Dunn's supporters home on a positive note in the last on the nine race program.
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