Champion jockey William Pike agrees with a fair chunk of pundits that key factors are in play for Casino Seventeen in Monday’s Group 2 Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot.
A perfect barrier draw, light weight, nearing peak form and prepared by master conditioners, has Pike brimming with excitement that he can win a fourth Perth Cup.
Punters share Pike’s assessment with Casino Seventeen the rock-solid $3 favourite, ahead of interstate raiders, Numerian at $4.80 and Zoumon $8.
Casino Seventeen jumps from barrier five, drops to 53kg after carrying 59kg in the weight-for-age Northerly Stakes and Ted Van Heemst Stakes and is trained by Grant and Alana Williams, renowned at getting their horses to peak for their grand final.
Pike is hungry to get back in the saddle and kick off the New Year in style after he copped a 22-day suspension for causing interference in the Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on December 2.
Pike missed the ride on Casino Seventeen in the Northerly Stakes when placed 10th and last week’s Ted Van Heemst Stakes when the son of Casino Prince ran hard to finish three lengths third behind Numerian.
Pike, who won the Perth Cup on Crown Prosecutor (2005), Real Love (2015) and Mississippi Delta (2020), said Casino Seventeen is ready to fly and he’s looking forward to the opportunity of claiming his fifth victory in WA’s most prestigious staying contest.
“I’m looking forward to it and I know that he has been set for the race,” Pike told The Races WA.
“He drops a lot of weight from his last start, we’ve drawn a good barrier and there are lot of things in our favour.
“I also have confidence in Grant and Alana who are the best grand final trainers going around, so he ticks a lot of boxes.
“There are a lot of things in Casino Seventeen’s favour, the jockey just has to tick one more off on the day.”
Pike is eager to strike back and turn the tables on Numerian following the Ted Van Heemst Stakes.
He has healthy respect for the two-time Group 1 placed eight-year-old, but believes the 59kg topweight will be a difficult burden to overcome.
“I’m looking forward to the battle,” Pike said.
“Numerian has an awful lot of weight for a staying distance.
“In the shorter ones it’s not so significant, but in the staying ones it is to my mind.”
Pike rates Numerian as Casino Seventeen’s biggest danger in the Perth Cup, but he also believes Diamond Scene should not be left out of discussion.
One of two runners for leviathan owner-breeders Bob and Sandra Peters, the gelding won four straight races before finishing a bunching fourth to Queen Alina in the A.T.A. Stakes (2200m).
“Numerian is obviously a clear danger,” Pike said.
“Diamond Scene had to do a lot of work up the hill the first time in the A.T.A. and I thought it was a game effort.
“Horses like that are dangers because like me they are going to get in on the minimum and they’re in good form.
“With barrier two and lightweight it will beat more than half of them home.
“I give him a lot of respect.”
Trained by Donna Riordan, Pike’s partnered Diamond Scene in two of his victories this campaign.
The four-year-old is a winner in five of 10 starts.