Real Love underlined star qualities and lived up to her pre-race hype with a stunning all-the-way victory in the Group 2 Golden River Developments Perth Cup (2400m) at Ascot today.
Starting a red-hot $2.70 favourite, Real Love jumped quickly for jockey William Pike and shocked punters when she found herself in the unfamiliar role of pacesetter.
The Adam Durrant-trained mare then absorbed pressure from the anticipated leader, Kirov Boy, who made a mid race move from the back of the field for his rider Danny Miller.
Kirov Boy, who led and won the A.T.A Handicap (2200m) by 7 ¾ lengths last Wednesday week, applied the pressure to Real Love but couldn’t go with her at the top of the straight.
As one challenge ended for Real Love another immediately surfaced when Red Blast, given a gun ride by Jerry Noske, issued his challenge from second position on cornering.
Real Love appeared vulnerable in the straight and had every reason to pack the race in but dug deep like the good horse she is and found another gear to draw away and win by 1-½ lengths.
Red Blast tried his heart out and ran consecutive seconds after a similar gallant effort in the C.B.Cox Stakes (2100m) at his previous start on December 20.
Kirov Boy did remarkably well to hang on for third with Lucciola running on for fourth.
Pike, who won the Perth Cup with the Lindsey Smith-trained Crown Prosecutor (2005), said he had to change tactics when Real Love landed in front.
“You can’t panic and it is what it is but it’s the last place I thought I would be,” said Pike.
“But you can get away with it when you have a good horse who is in form.
“I thought Kirov Boy was going to go past us but she kicked and was very strong.”
Real Love continued a phenomenal run of success for breeder-owners Bob and Sandra Peters who have won 15 of 31 feature races at Ascot this season.
The Peters family claimed their fifth Perth cup and second in partnership with Durrant after Lords Ransom won in 2010.
They also enjoyed success with Western Jewel (2012), Crown Prosecutor (2005) and Field Officer (1993).
Real Love ends her stunning campaign with four wins including the last three in succession and two placing’s from six starts.
The Desert King mare, who started one of the shortest-priced Perth Cup favourites, boosted stake earnings to $623,810.
The four-year-old dominated betting after taking out the Group 3 Queens Cup (2200m) and WA St Leger (2100m).
“She is showing exceptional things,” said Durrant.
“There is no reason why she couldn’t be competitive in the right race over east.”