Justin Warwick’s hopes of claiming a third Perth Cup received a major shot in the arm when Spiritual Warrior rebounded to winning form in the Listed A.T.A Stakes (2200m).
Spiritual Warrior won the Kalgoorlie Cup (2200m) in October, but until yesterday’s win at Ascot the five-year-old had failed to reach form in his current campaign.
The Blackfriars five-year-old had no impact in four feature races including last-start in the Group 2 Ted Van Heemst Stakes (2100m) when he was no match for Regal Power.
But in a determined display carrying the 58.5kg top weight for jockey Lucy Warwick, Spiritual Warrior displayed fighting qualities to shake off Prince Turbo and Artic Stream to record a timely return to the winner’s circle.
He is now rated a $9.50 chance in the Perth Cup, firming from $15 to sit on the fourth line of betting behind Mississippi Delta ($3), Star Exhibit ($3.50) and Taxagano ($7.50).
Warwick, who won the Perth Cup with Black Tycoon (2014) and Material Man (2018) when ridden by his daughter Lucy, said Spiritual Warrior’s victory came as a pleasant surprise.
“He probably surprised me a bit carrying the weight because there were some pretty nice horses down in the weights,” Warwick said.
“It’s just been a mission to get the fitness in because he raced back in Kalgoorlie and then had a break before coming back here. (Ascot).
“You just cut things fine a bit, but he was spot on today.”
Spiritual Warrior boosted his record to 9 wins from 31 starts with prizemoney lifted to $397,540.
Warwick said Spiritual Warrior might not possess the same brilliance as Material Man or Black Tycoon, but he can’t be discounted in next week’s Perth Cup.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win it twice, but with horses with a lot more zip than this bloke (Spiritual Warrior),” Warwick said.
“But you can only be in form and he is a big strong lad.
“He will drop down to 53kg next week.
“He is all I’ve got so he is the one I will be trying with.”