Punters have deserted Paula Wagg’s Balmont Girl for the $500,000 Golden River Developments Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot on New Year’s Day.

Balmont Girl held second favouritism in TAB pre-post betting but has drifted alarmingly to $11 after copping barrier 15 in the Group 2 feature.

Adam Durrant’s Real Love retains her position at the head of the market and has firmed into a rock-solid $2.40 after drawing perfectly in barrier five.

WA Derby champion Respondent, who ran an unlucky third to Real Love in the last fortnight’s WA St Leger (2100m), is the $7.50 second favourite.

Respondent, trained by Grant Williams and raced by Bob and Sandra Peters, will start from barrier 12 for jockey, Brad Parnham.

Kirov Boy is next at $8 after leading and posting a blistering 7 ¼ length win in the A.T.A Handicap (2100m) on December 24.

The five-year-old chestnut gelding, trained by Arthur Mortimer and to be ridden by Danny Miller, opened a $34 chance.

Wagg says she has no option but to instruct jockey, Shaun O’Donnell, to go back and ride Balmont Girl from the back of the field.

“I don’t want her to go hard early at all so I would say we are going to have to give them a head start which is unfortunate,” said Wagg.

“I think in a race over 2400m if you are travelling three wide you are covering too much ground so I think we have to go back.”

Balmont Girl has the one win this campaign but her form cannot be denied with three further placings.

Her high point came in the Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) and a slashing second to Elite Belle in the Railway Stakes (1600m).

She could be considered unlucky when 10th in the Kingston Town Classic (1800m) before a last-start second to Real Love in the St Leger.

Balmont Girl had Real Love’s measure last season with twin victories in the WA Oaks (2400m) and Natasha Stakes (1800m).

Wagg said Balmont Girl would be at her peak for the Perth Cup.

“She has been up for a while but every race has been planned out and she has taken it all in her stride,” said Wagg.

“I’m really really happy with her going into this race; more so than any other of her previous races.

“As far as her condition and attitude she is just loving it at the moment.

“I couldn’t be happier with her.”

RWWA: Julio santarelli