Runner By Runner: Perth Cup

1. Numerian (59kg)

Trainer: Annabel Neasham
Jockey: Brad Parnham
Barrier: 15

Showed last Saturday in the Van Heemst (Group Two WFA 2100) that he’s still a force to be reckoned with as an 8 year old. He’s now a 2x Group Two winner in Australia (Van Heemst and Q22 at Flemington) and was Group One placed in both the Australian Cup and Doomben Cup in 2023. He has to carry top weight and has to concede a key rival in Casino Seventeen 6kg from their clash last week but he’s a proven stayer and is still racing at the peak of his powers. The fact that a former Caulfield and Melbourne Cup runner is here just goes to show that the Perth Cup prizemoney injection was a much needed and well received administrative decision. Can stay, can carry weight, can win.

2. Zoumon (58.5kg)

Trainer: Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott
Jockey: Rachel King
Barrier: 12

Punters seem quick to forget Zoumon after one ‘poor’ performance last weekend in the Van Heemst Stakes. He jumped a well supported $2.40 favourite in that event ahead of Numerian in the market and was forced to breeze outside of Marocchino, probably one of the toughest places in racing. He poured the pressure on in the first 200m to try and cross and then they never really took a breather at any stage: first 1500m = 13L faster than average. He was off his feet on the bend and when tested lay outwards sharply under pressure. Now goes to 2400m, the distance of his Caloundra and Grafton Cup wins and he can cross here with no Marocchino in the race. Blinkers on for his Grand Final, don’t dismiss.

3. Bad Wolf (53kg)

Trainer: Ashley Maley
Jockey: Holly Watson
Barrier: 9

Ash Maley has had the old boy in work for a long while, beginning his campaign on July 8th at Belmont Park over 1400m. He has since raced in each month over a preparation spanning 13 runs. Won a pair of 66+ races at Belmont and Ascot in September and October but hasn’t raced at the same level since. Was beaten 6L by Let’sdeal last start and they’ll both be big prices in the Cup. Not his first Perth Cup having contested the 2022 Perth Cup when finishing ninth beaten 3.75L by Midnight Blue, Paddy’s Shadow and Platoon. He’ll jump 200-1+.

4. Be Optimistic (53kg)

Trainer: Luke Fernie
Jockey: Clint Johnston-Porter
Barrier: 8

Has enjoyed a real breakout preparation placing in a Coolgardie and Boulder Cup before taking out the Kalgoorlie Cup over 2300m. A month between runs she dropped back into the Luckygray Stakes before a fortnight later running over the top of Casino Seventeen in the AJ Scahill Cup to really consolidate her position in the Perth Cup pecking order. Luke Fernie and connections had the option of going around as likely favourite in the Towton Cup or chasing Group One status in the Northerly Stakes. Ultimately she found the step to WFA a little too much at her first attempt and was beaten just over 4.5L as a 60-1 chance. She’s got a turn of foot to put herself into the race and she’s proven herself at 2300m in the Kalgoorlie Cup. Holding form really nicely but the hard part to get your head around though is the 5kg she concedes to Casino Seventeen from the Scahill Cup.

5. Black Fantasy (53kg)

Trainer: Daniel & Ben Pearce
Jockey: Lucy Fiore
Barrier: 14

Had a prolific 3 year old winter at Belmont Park winning at Listed Level on two occasions (Aquanita Stakes 2000m, Belmont Classic 2200m) before beating the older horses by 6L in a 78+. After that though things didn’t quite go to plan with the Blackfriars gelding missing the next 15 months of racing between July 2022 and November 2023. He had been building and building into his preparation before winning the Towton Cup and finishing a narrow second in ATA Stakes 11 days later with an extra 3kg on his back. Gets 3kg on Queen Alina/Blazing Away/Neufbosc/Diamond Scene/Demolish/Truly Inspired from the ATA Stakes and has the option to roll forward outside of Zoumon and look for a position over the speed. Right form, right weight, right time.

6. Blazing Away (53kg)

Trainer: David Harrison
Jockey: Joseph Azzopardi
Barrier: 7

Is getting under the guard and going particularly well, however, with his rating (m86) there’s plenty of smaller fish to fry for him and you’d think he’s going to be much better suited in the Pinjarra/Bunbury Cups if they can keep him going through this preparation. Needs things to go right for him, needs to be saved up for one last sprint and while he finished right on the heels of Queen Alina and Black Fantasy in the ATA Stakes you’d think that the Pearce Pair will likely both have his measure again here over 2400m. Won the 2022 Bunbury Cup and would love to see him continue on his preparation and race again in those provincial Cups come March/April. David Harrison swaps blinkers for visors in an attempt to get an extra inch out of him come Cup Day.

7. Casino Seventeen (53kg)

Trainer: Grant & Alana Williams
Jockey: William Pike
Barrier: 5

Everything just looks to be timed to perfection by master trainers Grant & Alana Williams. No doubt he was always going to head to a Perth Cup sixth-up in his preparation and while many will look at his form and highlight the fact he’s yet to win a race this campaign he’s also kept his handicap rating consistent with the minimum of this target race. He started the campaign a m96 and heading into the Van Heemst last week he was only a m97 after placing twice at Listed Level in the Northam Cup (1600) and AJ Scahill Cup (2100). In his first WA preparation he won sixth-up, seventh-up, tenth-up and eleventh-up when marching his way through the grades. Meets Numerian 6kg better for being beaten 2.75L, meets Be Optimistic 5kg better for being beaten 1.5L, reunites with William Pike, gets the weight off his back (carried 59, 58, 59, 59, 59 so far) and is drawn to get a gun run. Tick, tick, tick.

8. Demolish (53kg)

Trainer: Neville Parnham
Jockey: Laqdar Ramoly
Barrier: 4

Was always destined to find himself in a Perth Cup at some stage, with a career CV that includes placings in the Listed Lex Piper (1600), JC Roberts (1800), Melvista (2200), Belmont Guineas (1600), Aquanita (2000) and Belmont Classic (2200). Was kept to ratings races early this preparation and finally broke through for his third career victory in a moderate 66+ 2200 on 9 December. Headed back to Black Type racing in the ATA Stakes when drawn barrier 10 of 12 and forced to go right back into the field. Amazingly nobody made a mid-race move and so a horse like Demolish was a victim of circumstance unable to get himself into the contest at any stage. The first 1600m was run a ridiculous 26L slower than average and by the time moves started to come from the back the leaders were off and gone. More genuine tempo behind Zoumon suits him far better.

9. Diamond Scene (53kg)

Trainer: Donna Riordan
Jockey: Steven Parnham
Barrier: 2

Looking to follow in the footsteps of many lightly raced progressive Peters Investments stayers as he heads to his acid test in the 2024 Perth Cup. There’s a fair few similarities to recent Cup fancies Midnight Blue / Truly Inspired with Diamond Scene’s progression. He started this preparation as a Class One galloper before winning four races on the bounce making his way from a C3 into a 60+ into a pair of 66+ wins. Tested the waters at Listed Level in the ATA Stakes and wasn’t disgraced beaten under 1L after working through the early stages to find a position. Was probably three deep outside the leaders for the first 600m before finding his spot. From barrier 2 in the Cup he can bounce out and sit on the tow ball of Zoumon – really nice spot for him. Might be 12 months too early for him but he looks like he’ll stay all day and Steven Parnham is riding brilliantly at the minute. If Pike was on he’d be half his price.

10. Holy Enchantment (53kg)

Trainer: Stephen Miller
Jockey: Michael Poy
Barrier: 16

Textbook SJ Miller preparation: race the week before and back-up into the Cup. Add to that the fact that he drops a whopping 7kg in weight and the fact that they’ve gone marginally quicker overall in the 66+ than they did in the Van Heemst and you can understand why there are punters out there happy to speculate on Holy Enchantment with the alternate form lines. Brad Parnham off to partner Numerian hurts (yet understandable) but it’s a nice pick-up ride for Michael Poy who has shown he’s happy to put horses into the contest if the leaders try to pinch too much of a breather down the back straight. $61 into $18 in the last 7 days. Respect the money.

11. Let’sdeal (53kg)

Trainer: Steve Wolfe
Jockey: Craig Newitt
Barrier: 17

Could Wolfey pull off one of the best training performances in recent years with Let’sdeal? First-up 1500m in a 66+, second-up 1600m in a 72+ and now third-up into a Perth Cup over 2400m. It’s an ask but he’s fresh, he’s new and he’s raw. With Shaun McGruddy currently unavailable connections were left with a difficult task of finding a rider at 53kg but they’ve really pulled a rabbit out of the hat with Craig Newitt heading to Perth to partner Let’sdeal in the Cup. Almost every single Stewards Report in Let’sdeal’s career has read “lay inwards in the home straight”, well on Saturday when he starts his characteristic laying inwards he’ll be met with a left handed whip rider in Froggy Newitt who should suit him down to the ground. He and Holy Enchantment are two runners with lesser ratings form to their name but real X-Factors about them.

12. Neufbosc (53kg)

Trainer: Neville Parnham
Jockey: Jason Brown
Barrier: 3

Needs to finish in the first 5 to take his career prize money past $1,000,000 and while he hasn’t won a race since his gritty victory in the 2020 Perth Cup under Chris Parnham it’s pretty clear that Neville Parnham has his veteran grey going along in good order. Jason Brown jumped aboard in the Luckygray four runs back and is starting to gel nicely with him. Loomed up outside of Black Fantasy on straightening in the Towton Cup before peaking in the last 200. Was forced back to the fence in a sit and sprint affair in the ATA Stakes which is the complete opposite of what a horse like Neufbosc is looking for. The faster they go the better for him and on paper it looks like he’ll land somewhere near one out and one back. Past his best? Probably. Impossible? Absolutely not.

13. Playhouse Patron (53kg)

Trainer: Bob McPherson
Jockey: Peter Knuckey
Barrier: 13

Forget he went around last week in the Westspeed Platinum Cup when dragged back behind tiring horses unable to build momentum at any stage, but at the same time, how many times can you make excuses for him at Ascot? Ultimately he’s 0 from 17 at the track and he had every mortal hope two starts ago when Joey Azzopardi took the initiative to lead on him and he absolutely walked them (first 1600m run 22L slower than average, last 600m run 3.5L faster than average) and Demolish still ran over the top of him. He’s another that’s probably better suited towards a Pinjarra Cup / Bunbury Cup or even bullying them in the Albany Cup or Geraldton Cup as he’s still only a m75 rater. Plenty of lower hanging fruit to pick off.

14. Queen Alina (53kg)

Trainer: Daniel & Ben Pearce
Jockey: Chris Parnham
Barrier: 6

Had been chasing a Black Type win for several starts being owned and raced by a breeding operation and finally got what they’ve been looking for in the ATA Stakes when winning at Listed Level. She’s been building nicely into her preparation and getting better and better with every run. There’s no issue with 2400m for her and now we know that she can bounce out of the gates and put herself into a position. In the Perth Cup that’s likely somewhere right alongside Casino Seventeen and she’ll either be one pair in front of him or right on his tow ball hoping to pounce on him late. Either way she gets the right run and she’s been matching it with the Luckygray/Scahill/Towton/ATA crew all preparation.

15. Toni’s Spirit (53kg)

Trainer: Jordan Rolfe
Jockey: Patrick Carbery
Barrier: 1

Only in her second racing preparation and has elevated from a Northam 1600m maiden win back in September to a Perth Cup in the space of 12 runs. Her career PB was a York Cup win and clearly that’s not the same level as a Perth Cup. Since that country Cup victory she has placed at two of three starts in 66+ ratings grade. Understand the attraction of going to a $1,000,000 Perth Cup but at the same time the Group Three La Trice over 1800m for fillies and mares would have been a reasonably attractive proposition for a lightly raced 5 year old. Ash Stelmach and Jordy Rolfe can look forward to many more profitable seasons with this mare but a Perth Cup looks beyond her (for now).

16. Truly Inspired (53kg)

Trainer: Donna Riordan
Jockey: Jason Whiting
Barrier: 10

This time last year he won a C1, 66+ and ATA Stakes which saw his handicap rating blow up from a m62 to a m88 in the space of two months before he finished fourth in the 2023 Perth Cup behind Buster Bash, Stafford’s Lad and Pure Devotion. He was given 4 barrier trials (3 of them over 1450m) leading into his first-up run in the Luckygray Stakes and while he’s shown glimpses, including running fourth in the Towton, he’s just not in anywhere near the same form as he was 12 months ago. He’s clearly the second elect of the Bob Peters / Donna Riordan pairing.


Becoming harder and harder not to be attracted to Casino Seventeen with all the pieces seemingly falling into place for him. He needs the speed on – which he gets through Zoumon/Black Fantasy/Numerian being drawn wide, he gets down perfectly on the minimum, he gets big weight swings on key rivals and he gets William Pike returning from suspension. He was $3.60 this time last week, he’s now $2.85 and shortening by the day. Targeted at this race and his runs in the Northerly Stakes and Van Heemst Stakes at WFA were excellent Perth Cup trials.

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