After a successful hit-and-run mission during the Autumn, which saw two of his stable stars quinella the $5million All-Star Mile, WA racing's leviathan owner-breeder Bob Peters has sent six of his best horses across the Nullabor to tackle some of Australia's biggest races this Spring.
Trainer Grant Williams has made the journey from WA to Victoria, armed with an arsenal of horses that have the potential to dominate the Melbourne Spring racing carnival. Those include Arcadia Queen, Regal Power, Superstorm, Showmanship, Windstorm and Perfect Jewel.
Champion jockey William Pike has also made the decision to base himself in Melbourne for the Spring, where he will have first choice on all of the Peters horse.
Tim Geers takes a look at each of the star WA horses and what races we might see them in throughout the Melbourne Spring.
Age/Sex: 5YO Mare
Career highlight: G1 Kingston Town Stakes (2018)
Likely targets: Cox Plate
Last start: 5/16 (2L) – Golden Eagle, Rosehill, 7th November 2019.
Comment: Arcadia Queen was being touted as the next big thing in Australian racing after her breathtaking 4.5L win in the G1 Kingston Town Classic in 2018. That performance had her rated as the superior three-year-old in the country at the time. Many had her pegged for a Cox Plate campaign the next year, but she was instead sent to the stables of Chris Waller, where she would be aimed at The Everest.
Her first start in Sydney was a 1.8L victory in the G2 Theo Marks Stakes over 1300m, before dropping back to 1200m of The Everest five weeks later. She started a $5.00 favourite in the race, but she was outclassed over the shorter trip, dropping out to finish second-last, beaten 4.6L. She then went to the Golden Eagle for four-year-olds, where she once again started favourite, but things didn’t go her way. She was beaten 2L into 5th, but pulled up injured out of the race. She damaged muscles in her back and returned to Perth with hoof problems, meaning it’s taken several months for her to rehabilitate.
She is back with original trainers Grant and Alana Williams and from all reports, was back to 100% soundness when she made the trip across to Victoria, however, she picked up a stone bruise in her heel, which she’s only recently overcome. She will kick off her Melbourne Spring campaign in the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield on August 15, where she will be ridden by Damian Lane. She’s been off the scene for 9 months and has also had a slightly interrupted lead in to the race with the bruised heel, so she’s likely to need her first up run. She will progress onto the G1 Memsie Stakes on August 29. Her main target race for the Spring will be the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley on October 24, where she is currently rated a $17 chance with Sportsbet.
Replay: 2018 Kingston Town Classic
Age/Sex: 5YO Gelding
Career highlight: All-Star Mile (2019)
Likely targets: Cox Plate
Last start: 1/15 (0.75L) – All-Star Mile, Caulfield, 14th March 2020.
Comment: The 2019 WA Derby winner stamped his class with victory in last year’s G1 Railway Stakes over the mile, proving he wasn’t just an elite horse over the staying trips. After Arcadia Queen returned in less than desirable condition following her Sydney preparation with Chris Waller, Bob Peters made the call to send Regal Power to Melbourne under the care of his WA trainer, Grant Williams.
His record shows that he tends to need the run when first up from a spell, so it was no surprise to see him hit the line in 4th in the G2 Peter Young Stakes at his first start in Victoria. He improved as expected second up, where he was run down late by Fifty Stars in the G1 Australian Cup, beaten half-a-length. The commentary out of that race was that William Pike found the front too early in the long Flemington straight, leaving Regal Power vulnerable, but he made sure not to make the same mistake at his next start in the $5million All-Star Mile at Caulfield. Regal Power cruised to the front halfway down the straight and held off stablemate Superstorm to cement himself as one of – if not the – country’s premier milers.
That was back in March, and after returning back to WA for a break, the son of Pierro makes his return to the track in the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield on August 15, alongside stablemate Arcadia Queen. William Pike has stuck with him and the reports from the stable indicate he’s had a faultless preparation leading into his first up run. As aforementioned, his record shows he will improve with his first run under the belt, but there’s still room for improvement in the 5YO and he looks a force to be reckoned with this Spring.
He will likely contest races such as the G1 Memsie Stakes (1400m), G1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m), G1 Underwood Stakes (1800m) and G1 Caulfield Stakes (2000m) on his way to his grand final, the G1 Cox Plate (2040m) on October 24. He is currently rated a $17 chance in the Memsie Stakes, and a $13 chance for the Cox Plate with Sportsbet.
Replay: 2020 All-Star Mile
Age/Sex: 4YO Gelding
Career highlight: 2nd in All-Star Mile (2019)
Likely targets: Golden Eagle/Cox Plate
Last start: 2/15 (0.75L) – All-Star Mile, Caulfield, 14th March 2020.
Comment: With all the hype surrounding the likes of Windstorm and Showmanship, as well as the eagerly awaited returns of Arcadia Queen and Regal Power, this might be the forgotten horse from the Peters team, which is quite astonishing really.
He ran a luckless 5th in the WA Guineas at just his fourth career start, beaten less than a length, before another eye-catching run in the G1 Kingston Town Classic at start five. He resumed from a break with victory in the Challenger Stakes at Ascot before being sent to Melbourne as a travelling mate for Regal Power. He quickly proved he was a little bit better than just a travelling companion, running 2nd to Alligator Blood in the G1 Australian Guineas, which earned him entry into the $5million All-Star Mile.
It was his performance over the Caulfield mile which really stamped him as a horse with unlimited potential, coming from near last and widest on the turn to get within a length of stablemate Regal Power, defeating nine Group 1 winners in the process. He was originally being set for the $7.5million Golden Eagle in Sydney on October 31, but if the ban on Victorian-based horses continues, it will force a rethink of his program. In any case, he will begin his preparation with 1-2 runs in Melbourne, which could be the likes of the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (September 21) and G1 Toorak Handicap (October 12). He is currently $11 for the Golden Eagle with Sportsbet.
Replay: 2020 Australian Guineas
Age/Sex: 5YO Gelding
Career highlight: Rating 78+ Handicap, Belmont, 4th July 2020.
Likely targets: The Everest?
Last start: 1/11 (2.25L) – Rating 78+ Hcp, Belmont, 4th July 2020.
Comment: One of two lightly-raced boom horses who made the trip across the Nullabor and have a bit of an unknown factor about them. Normally, a horse like this would be nailed on to contest the Railway Stakes and Kingston Town Stakes in Perth, and while he still might, he’ll be based in Melbourne over the coming months. He’s a 5YO with just six career starts to his name, so he’s very lightly-raced for his age, which is in part due to him spending 11 months off the track after his second start.
He should probably be undefeated; he has five wins to his name and on the one occasion he lost, he had no luck at all as the $1.75 favourite. He’s only a 78+ winner back in Perth, but he’s beaten Listed-quality horses and beaten them comfortably, with plenty left under the hood. He’s been smashing the clock in doing so and it’s hard to know just what level (and what distance) he could get to this Spring.
With that said, there were whispers that he may be the stable’s Everest horse if a slot-holder was to come knocking, but those whispers have remained just that with no further developments. He’s another that will be impacted by the ban of Victorian-based horses racing in NSW, so it very much looks a race-by-race program for Showmanship, which kicks off this Saturday in the Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield. In fact, he holds a nomination for the Cox Plate, where he is rated a $34 chance by Sportsbet, which just goes to show how fluid their plans are for him right now. He is rated a $34 chance for The Everest, and although that is up in the air, one thing remains certain – he is a very exciting horse to keep an eye on this Spring.
Age/Sex: 4YO Gelding
Career highlight: Rating 72+ Handicap, Belmont, 11th July 2020.
Likely targets: Golden Eagle/Cox Plate
Last start: 1/11 (0.25L) – Rating 72+ Handicap, Belmont, 11th July 2020.
Comment: The other lightly-raced boom horse from the Peters/Williams setup, with a similar profile to Showmanship, the difference being Windstorm is a 4YO whereas Showmanship is five. He’s a winner of five of his six starts, and his only defeat came first up this preparation as the $1.40 favourite, where he was forced to come from the back of the field with 60.5kg in a race where they absolutely crawled. He reeled off a 33.43sec final 600m on that occasion, which is about as fast as they go on a Soft 7 track, so it was basically mathematically impossible to win from where he was in the run.
He’s since put three consecutive wins on the board, with all five career wins being over 1200m-1300m. The horse he beat last start has since come out and won twice since. Windstorm’s main target will be the Golden Eagle in Sydney on October 31, alongside stablemate Superstorm, but only if Victorian-based horses are allowed to travel to NSW. He also holds a nomination for the Cox Plate on October 31, so if restrictions are still in place, that may be the race he is aimed towards.
Age/Sex: 5YO Mare
Career highlights: WA Guineas (2017), G3 Belmont Sprint (2020), G3 Hyperion Stakes (2020).
Likely targets: Mares races
Last start: 2/8 (1.8L) – G3 Strickland Stakes, Belmont, 27th June 2020.
Comment: Perfect Jewel is the only mare in the group of six horses sent over by Bob Peters and Team Williams. She is probably the horse with the lowest profile and hype of those in Melbourne, which says plenty given her record. She was a G2 WA Guineas winner as a 3YO, but lost form and went more than a year without winning, before finally breaking through in the G3 La Trice Classic in January.
Retirement and the breeding barn were on the radar following a disappointing first up run in the G3 Roma Cup, but those plans were soon shelved when she produced a huge upset second up in the G3 Belmont Sprint. She followed up with another upset win in the G3 Hyperion Stakes, before being outclassed by Material Man over 2000m in the G3 Strickland Stakes at her last start.
She will be kept to mares’ races in Melbourne this Spring, with an abundance of options for her. They could include the G2 Let’s Elope Stakes (1400m), G2 Stocks Stakes (1600m), G2 Rose Of Kingston Stakes (1400m), G3 Ladies’ Day Vase (1600m), G3 Powerflo Solutions Stakes (1600m), and if they test her at Group 1 level, the Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) on the first day of the Flemington carnival. All of her best racing has been done on rain-affected ground this preparation, so if she's able to line up in one of those mares races on a soft track, she will be very competitive.
Replay: G3 Hyperion Stakes
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