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A narrow victory in last Saturday’s Ted Van Heemst Stakes at Ascot Racecourse has the Alan Mathews-trained Pounamu on track for a shot at the Perth Cup 2018 on New Year’s Day.
The traditional final lead-up to the Group 2 $500,000 Perth Cup (2400m) on January 1, the Group 2 $400,000 Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m) featured just the six starters this Perth Summer Racing Carnival.
It was a close two-horse race in betting and on the finish line with the Patrick Carbery-ridden grey Pounamu ($2.60) narrowly edging out the favourite Material Man ($2.05) for a quarter-length victory in the weight-for-age showdown after a thrilling battle down the Ascot straight.
The top two in this year’s Ted Van Heemst Stakes results held a notable gap on third past the post Zarantz ($9) who ran over four lengths back to round out the trifecta.
The Ted Van Heemst Stakes quinella was a repeat of that from the Group 1 $1 million Kingston Town Classic (1800m) on December 9 where Pounamu also held a narrow winning margin over Justin Warwick’s Vital Equine six-year-old Material Man.
“My horse just dug deep and he wants to win now,” Carbery said of Pounamu post-win.
“He’s a different horse than he was 12 months ago.”
In the race formerly known as the C.B. Cox Stakes, Pounamu improved on his third-in-run position to move alongside frontrunner Material Man in the closing stages and the two battled it out over the final 100m.
“I just thought with Justin’s horse (Material Man) that when it came to the crunch we would out-sprint it,” winning trainer Mathews told The West Australian.
“I thought he was a bit out of his comfort zone being a bit closer to what he’s used to, but Paddy’s riding in good form and the way Material Man raced, you didn’t want to be giving him too much of a head start.”
The final stride success of Authorized six-year-old Pounamu saw his Muchea-based trainer Mathews enjoy a sixth success in the event and took the horse’s Ascot record up to nine wins from 18 starts at the track.
Pounamu has now amassed a healthy $1.36 million in prize money and another big pay day could be on the cards for the former Sydney-trained stayer who will be tested over the mile and a half for the first time in the Perth Cup.
Mathews is chasing a record-equalling seventh Perth Cup success this New Year’s Day with Pounamu who is allocated the 59kg topweight in the handicap classic.
“He’s had the nice prep,” Mathews said on Saturday.
“If he’s not good enough, he’s not good enough [to win the Perth Cup].
“But there will be good tempo up front and he showed today he can race handier.”
All-in Perth Cup odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have three horses battling for favouritism including Pounamu ($4.80) who occupies the third line of betting.
Trap For Fools ($4) remains the early favourite, Lindsey Smith’s in-form four-year-old having scored his sixth straight win in the Listed A.T.A. Stakes (2200m) on December 20 before scratching out of the Ted Van Heemst Stakes field.
Material Man ($4.40) is second favourite to win the Perth Cup, the gelding also extending out to 2400m for the first time.
2017 Ted Van Heemst Stakes Results
Ascot Race 6 – 23/12/2017
|1||1||POUNAMU||Alan Mathews||Patrick Carbery||–||4||59kg||$2.60|
|2||2||MATERIAL MAN||Justin Warwick||Ms Lucy Warwick||0.3L||5||59kg||$2.05F|
|3||3||ZARANTZ||Adam Durrant||Chris Parnham||4.25L||6||59kg||$9|
|4||7||COSMIC STORM||Grant & Alana Williams||Jarrad Noske||4.25L||3||57kg||$9.50|
|5||5||SUNSET SUPERMAN||Brett Pope||Daniel Staeck||4.75L||1||59kg||$81|
|6||4||DARK MUSKET||Graeme Ballantyne||Clint Johnston-Porter||5.5L||2||59kg||$31|
|–||8||SHINTA MANI||Sharon Miller||Jason Whiting||–||0||–||–|
|–||6||TRAP FOR FOOLS||Lindsey Smith||Alan Kennedy||–||0||–||–|
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