Simon Miller may have missed out on Group 1 glory during the Festival of Perth Racing, but one of WA’s most popular races may still be his to win with Senhor Da Gama and recent stable acquisition Lopov both on track for a shot at the Perth Cup 2011 on New Year’s Eve.
It has been a frustrating few weeks on the track for local Ascot-based Miller.
Firstly his boom Magic Albert three-year-old Ron’s Call failed as the favourite in the Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m) when running ninth to King Saul.
Suffering from heat stroke and failing to recover in the days after, Ron’s Call was sent to the paddock immediately and as such will miss out on the $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) this weekend.
Miller was also without representation in Perth’s other Group 1 race of the season, the $1 million Railway Stakes (1600m) back on November 19.
It was more heartache last Saturday at Ascot when his odds-on favourite Night War was defeated by over a length when second to Watermans Bay in the Listed Placid Ark Stakes (1200m).
There was some consolation for Miller on Saturday, however, when his five-year-old Commands gelding Senhor Da Gama scored an easy one and three quarter length win over favourite Dancin On The Wind in the $45,000 B Branded Handicap (2200m).
Senhor Da Gama had been withdrawn from the $80,000 Listed Tattersall’s Cup (2100m) on Railway Stakes Day, Miller planning a careful campaign to get the galloper into the 2011 Perth Cup without too much weight.
“If he won last week he would have jumped up too many ratings points,” Miller said.
“He has had three wins from his past six starts and you may think he is near to the paddock.
“But he is going well in the stable and may continue on to the Perth Cup.
“Senhor Da Gama is the ideal Perth Cup horse but he has been up a long time.
“He can have another run and if he comes through it, he’ll head to the Cup.”
Miller’s other Perth Cup-bound hopeful is ex-Victorian stayer Lopov.
Formerly prepared by Flemington horseman Danny O’Brien, Savabeel four-year-old Lopov was purchased by Miller who formed a syndicate headed by Peter Gangemi earlier this month.
Yet to race for their new connections, Lopov could be given the chance to become the Perth Cup winner in their WA debut, the galloper having only arrived at their new home three weeks ago.
A winner of five of their 22 career starts to date, Lopov was most recently seen running a disappointing ninth when beaten eight and a half lengths by Norsqui in The Lavazza Long Black (2800m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day, November 1.
Prior to their Melbourne Cup Day failure Lopov was seen running away to win the Betfair Handicap (2500m) at Morphettville by an authoritative five lengths on October 15.
The Perth Cup was reduced from its original two-mile (3200 metre) distance to 2400 metres in 2008, which will suit Lopov to a tee according to Miller.
“He was going to run in the Sandown Cup over 3200 metres earlier this month, so he is already rock-hard fit,” Miller said.
“I find when you travel horses interstate or change their environment they fly first-up.
“I’ve spoken to the owners and they have agreed to it (the Perth Cup).”
Miller was also unfazed over Lopov’s loss on Melbourne Cup Day, saying that with the fence off conditions did not suit.
Traditionally held on New Year’s Day, as was the plan originally for the 2012 Perth Cup, a rescheduling by Perth Racing will see the $400,000 Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) run on December 31, which will actually be the second 2011 Perth Cup.
Perth Cup nominations will be taken on Tuesday December 6 and published right here at Races.com.au.
In the meantime, get in on the elite betting action of the year’s closing thoroughbred major by signing up with Luxbet and checking out the 2011 Kingston Town Classic odds and markets.