One of the top fancies for next month’s 2016 Perth Cup, Neverland will bypass the traditional lead-up this weekend with trainer Grant Williams confirming an easier lead-up target for the in-form mare.
A winner of six of her nine career starts to date, the main aim this summer for Williams’ four-year-old daughter of Big Brown is the $500,000 Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot Racecourse on January 2.
This Saturday at the same track a host of Perth Cup hopefuls will have their lead-ups into the mile and a half classic in the $250,000 Group 2 C.B. Cox Stakes (2100m).
Karnup-based Williams however will instead run Neverland and the fellow Bob and Sandra Peters-owned Respondent for the $100,000 ATA Stakes (2200m) at Ascot Wednesday week instead.
Neverland won her opening three assignments this time in including the Listed Carbine Club of WA Stakes (1400m) on November 21 before her last start fourth behind Williams’ history making filly Perfect Reflection in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) on December 5.
She now occupies the third line of futures Perth Cup betting at bookmakers around the country paying around $6 for the win with markets firmly led by dual Group 1 winning stablemate Delicacy who ran a close second in the Kingston Town Classic last time out.
Bob Peters isn’t 100% confident how Neverland will go over the 2400m in the Perth Cup as she only has winning form up to 1500m to date but hopes the ATA Stakes run will prove her staying ability.
“I don’t know whether she’ll get that far,” he told The West Australian.
“The next one will tell us. I don’t want to overtax her. She’s still developing.”
Five-year-old Haradasun gelding Respondent meanwhile is also at single figures in the all-in Perth Cup odds paying around $9 for the win following his third to Watermans Bay in the Group 3 A.J. Scahill Stakes (1400m) on November 28.
He hasn’t won a race since last year’s Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m) and was sixth past the post behind Real Love in this year’s Perth Cup beaten over six lengths.
Delicacy and reigning Perth Cup winner Real Love will both represent owner-breeders the Peters in the CB Cox Stakes on the weekend with jockeys still to be announced for the duo.
Delicacy chases her first win since completing the Schweppes Oaks – SA Derby double at Morphettville in May and runs on Saturday fourth-up, with Perth’s premier hoop William Pike expected to be aboard for the CB Cox Stakes.
Second favourite to go back-to-back in the Perth Cup for the first time since Magistrate (1981-82), the Adam Durrant-trained Desert King mare Real Love is tipped to improve on her recent form going up in distance.
Her latest start saw her beaten over 10 lengths in the Kingston Town where she failed to handle the Heavy-rated track.
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