Western Empire is hot favourite to win the Group 1 Heineken 3 Railway Stakes (1600m) at Ascot on Saturday, but owner Bob Peters remains cautious, despite his phenomenal record in the $1 million race
Since Western Empire took out last fortnight’s Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m) with ridiculous ease, he has been all the rage with punters and at $1.75 he has a stranglehold on betting for Perth’s premier mile race.
Peters is out to make it four straight Railway’s and six in total following the success of Old Comrade (2001), Elite Belle (2014), Galaxy Star (2018), Regal Power (2019) and Inspirational Girl (2020).
There is a wave of supporters across the nation who expect Western Empire to win the Railway Stakes and extend his record, but Peters’ is guarded and refuses to get too far ahead of himself.
“When you look at the markets it’s completely over the top,” Peters said on Tabradio.
“It worries me because most of the short-priced favourites that I can remember have been beaten in the race.
“I think people are working on potential rather than working out how the race might be run.
“We all know the Railway is a very hard race to win and a hard to race to compete and be in.”
Western Empire is on a run of five straight feature wins stretching back to February.
His winning haul commenced in the Lex Piper Stakes (1600m) and continued in the Roberts Stakes (1800m), the Melvista Stakes (2200m) and WA Derby (2400m).
Following a spell, he won the Asian Beau Stakes first-up, defeating Railway Stakes rival, Notorious One by two lengths.
“It was good to see him come back because quite a few Derby winners over the years haven’t come back,” Peters said.
“The only other one that came back in a good way was Regal Power.”
A lack of interstate representation in the Railway Stakes on the weekend has drawn criticism in certain circles, challenging the depth of the race.
Peters dismisses those concerns and says the Railway Stakes remains a difficult race to win.
“It’s a good field, there is no doubt about that,” Peters said.
“Eastern states horses don’t have a great record in the race, they win occasionally, but usually are not your problems, it’s usually the locals that are the problem.”
Western Empire is on the 53kg minimum and has drawn barrier three for William Pike.
Peters says the four-year-old will settle closer to the speed.
“That seems the logical way to go,” Peters said.
“If you pull back you will be facing a full field in front of you.”
Meanwhile earlier in the Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m), Peters will be looking for Treasured Star to bounce back.
The Toronado filly started a warm favourite in the Burgess Queen Stakes (1400m), but found traffic problems in running and finished fifth to Buzzoom.
Despite her promise with two wins and a second from four starts, Peters says Treasured Star has to prove she is worthy of the hype that surrounds her.
“I like to see horses do the job rather than everyone think they will do the job,” Peters said.
“In this case, it seems everyone presumes because she got caught up in the Burgess Queen that she would have won the race.
“We don’t really know that, do we.”
Worth half a million dollars, the WA Guineas has attracted a field of 13 starters.
Treasured Star is the $2.60 favourite and has drawn barrier six for William Pike.