This Wednesday a host of Perth Cup-bound stayers will have their final lead-up run into the January 2 feature at Ascot Racecourse in the ATA Stakes 2015 including odds-on favourite for the midweek clash Neverland.
A five-time winner from eight starts at the track, the Grant Williams-trained Big Brown four-year-old mare Neverland is one of 16 acceptors for this summer’s $100,000 Listed A.T.A. Stakes (2200m).
Perth’s No. 1 hoop William Pike is booked for the ride on the 55kg minimum weight in the handicap clash where Neverland is dominating betting at under $2 despite her wide barrier 13 draw.
After three straight Ascot wins including in the Listed Carbine Club of WA Stakes (1400m), she was last seen running a credible fourth to Perfect Reflection in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m).
Connections including owner breeders Bob and Sandra Peters, who won this year’s Perth Cup with Real Love, opted to bypass last weekend’s Group 2 CB Cox Stakes with Neverland and save her for the ATA Stakes instead.
The CB Cox Stakes was won by the fellow Williams-trained mare Delicacy who is the short priced favourite for the $500,000 Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) next month.
Allocated the hefty 59kg top weight however she is a chance to miss the race and instead be saved for eastern state features later in 2016.
Neverland is on 54kg for the Perth Cup and gets the chance for a lead-up win on Wednesday.
The other best fancied Perth Cup hope in the ATA Stakes field this week is the Adam Durrant-trained 59kg top weight Respondent.
The Haradasun gelding hasn’t won a race since the Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m) over the mile and a half as a three-year-old back in April last year, but ran a good third in the Group 3 AJ Scahill Stakes (1400m) behind Watermans Bay last time out in late November.
He also had 59kg that run and Glenn Smith retains the ride on Wednesday where the five-year-old jumps from a nice gate five draw.
The only other ATA Stakes acceptor under $10 for the win is Bedamijo drawn one outside of Respondent in barrier six with Shaun O’Donnell to ride the Tara Itztein-trained Helenus mare.
The veteran eight-year-old has her 50th career run and has a solid record at the distance (6-1-2-0), coming into the race off a second over the 2200m at Ascot from December 12.
She carried 58kg that day and drops to 55kg for the ATA and is also on her way to a Perth Cup run.
The horse that beat Bedamijo home a fortnight back, the Colin Webster-trained Danehill Express four-year-old Properantes is also in the mix for Wednesday’s rematch.
The in-form gelding has won four of his eight Ascot runs so far for an overall career record of six wins, two seconds and three thirds from 13 starts.
He rises in class for his first black-type start since a Listed win over 1500m at the track back in March and pays around $13 to back up from this and score the upset Perth Cup result.
Along with Properantes, drawn in gate 11 for jockey Troy Turner, the only other last start winner running in the ATA Stakes is the Paul Tapper-trained Dust Me Off.
Jumping from barrier two with Chris Parnham in the saddle, the four-year-old son of Trade Fair has winning form over the distance from December 5 when scoring an easy two length win as a $61 roughie in the Listed GA Towton Cup (2200m).
Also coming out of a top three GA Towton Cup run into the ATA Stakes are the Neville Parnham-trained runner-up Fulgur and Darren Mcauliffe’s third-placed Snippetson six-year-old Rebelson.
Check out the full ATA Stakes 2015 field, barriers, jockeys and weights below then head to Ladbrokes.com.au and get ready for the best Perth Summer Racing Carnival odds this weekend and beyond.
2015 ATA Stakes Final Field & Barrier Draw
Ascot Race 7 (4:45pm WA time) – 23/12/2015
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Br.||Wgt.||Hcp. Rating|
|1||36x6827x43||RESPONDENT||Adam Durrant||Glenn Smith||5||59kg||–|
|2||5×78215353||REBELSON||Darren Mcauliffe||Shaun Meeres||3||58kg||90|
|3||4112943104||DRIVE WEST||Joe Miller||Ben Paterson||8||57kg||88|
|4||632843×972||FULGUR (GB)||Neville Parnham||Steven Parnham||9||56.5kg||87|
|5||0x49695261||DUST ME OFF||Paul Tapper||Chris Parnham||2||56kg||86|
|6||0x23652912||BEDAMIJO||Tara Itzstein||Shaun O’Donnell||6||55kg||81|
|7||x77321x440||COUGAR EXPRESS||Lindsey Smith||Ms Lucy Warwick||12||55kg||73|
|8||3×07285413||DON’TGETCAUGHT||Ben Pearce||Ms Jerry Noske||1||55kg||69|
|9||086075×125||MYSTIC DUST||Brian Rogers||Shaun Mc Gruddy||16||55kg||62|
|10||x1123x1114||NEVERLAND||Grant Williams||William Pike||13||55kg||84|
|11||87×7007705||OPERATIONAL||Fred Kersley||Paul Harvey||14||55kg||79|
|12||11511×3421||PROPERANTES||Colin Webster||Troy Turner||11||55kg||83|
|13||17x326x212||SHEERKAT||Carolyn Grant||Jarrad Noske||4||55kg||64|
|14||817×046858||STEEL SPUR||Norm Pascoe||Peter Knuckey||7||55kg||69|
|15||1425918099||THE LADIES CHOICE||Mark Wright||Willie White||10||55kg||68|
|16||47031622×6||VERDELLO BLUE||Toby Roney||Jason Brown||15||55kg||80|