After originally looking to have missed a ride in the 2015 Kingston Town Classic at Ascot Racecourse on the weekend, local hoop Chris Parnham has picked up the mount on this year’s Perth Cup winning mare Real Love.
Parnham’s racing manager believed he had been first in line to partner the Grant Williams-trained Listed Carbine Club of WA Stakes (1400m) winning Big Brown mare Neverland in Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
Owners Bob & Sandra Peters however announced Hong Kong hoop Douglas Whyte would partner the four-year-old as she shoots for her fourth consecutive win at the track.
Whyte won last year’s Kingston Town Classic aboard the Chris Waller-trained Sydney visitor Moriarty and is out to emulate Parnham’s brother and fellow jockey Steven Parnham who rode back-to-back winners in the classic with Playing God (2010-11).
The younger of the Parnham brothers, Chris has had just two previous rides in the race without a top three finish.
He gets the chance to make it third time lucky this weekend however after the eleventh hour booking by Lark Hill horseman Adam Durrant for his five-year-old daughter of Desert King Real Love.
Winner of the Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) over the mile and a half on New Year’s Day, Real Love has an outstanding track record at Ascot with five wins, three seconds and two thirds from her dozen previous runs at the course.
Her latest victory was first-up on October 31 when beating home My Sister Lily in the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) with William Pike, who partners second favourite Perfect Reflection on Saturday with the filly out to become the first of her kind to take out the race, in the saddle.
Things went amiss last start over the mile however with Real Love only managing to finish 3.25 lengths off the Waller-trained winner Good Project in the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) on November 21.
Damien Oliver had the mount in the Railway but jumps off in favour of a ride aboard the Andreas Wohler-trained German favourite Magic Artist, fourth in the Mackinnon Stakes and Emirates Stakes at Flemington this Cup Carnival.
While brothers Steven and Brad have both ridden Real Love previously, Parnham jumps on her back for the first time in the final Group 1 Australian race on Saturday.
“Chris (Parnham) is riding her. Damien has opted for a Melbourne horse,” Durrant said.
She has had two previous 1800m runs without a win, but Durrant is confident she will relish the distance on Saturday with winning form up to 2400m and is happy to rule a line through her Railway run where she got caught back.
“It was one of those days it was pretty difficult to make up any ground at all and there was probably two or three eye catches in the race,” Durrant told Racing Ahead speaking of the lead-up run.
“Going forward over the longer journey is where they are going to be best suited. It was pretty disappointing to see the way the track did play out for that day. It was very, very difficult for anything to sort of make ground.
“The track was obviously not fair for the whole team. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, they all have to race on.
“Unfortunately my horses couldn’t adapt to that sort of on pace racing.
“Looking at Saturday hopefully they can get it right and give everyone a chance.
“Obviously she is a horse that is going to keep improving as she gets up over further. She attacked the line really well (last start).
“The plan was to go forward but unfortunately she took a little bit of a backward step as the gates opened and basically the hand was dealt and we had to go back.
“She hit the line well, run good sectionals. She has come through the run really well which is the most important thing and she has a few races in the future for her.”
After Saturday Durrant is looking ahead to Perth Summer Racing Carnival runs in the $250,000 Group 2 C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m) on December 19 before a New Year’s Day title defence in the $400,000 Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m).
“Hopefully she can finish off the race that well again (on Saturday) and if she can’t win, be hitting the line well for the Cox Stakes and possibly another crack at the Perth Cup in a months’ time,” he said.
Real Love occupies the fourth line of the latest Kingston Town Classic odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $7.50, so back her now before prices firm with this afternoon’s barrier draw!