History could be about to repeat for Perfect Start following her last-gasp win in a desperate finish to the Gr. 3 Mills Reef Winery Trentham Stakes this afternoon.
Last month the Perfectly Ready mare got up for a last-stride win in a similar finish to the Manawatu Cup Prelude at Awapuni. A week later she returned to the same track and impressively scored a career-best victory in the Gr. 3 Manawatu Cup. Now Perfect Start will attempt to complete the same trick in the Gr. 2 Platinum Homes Wellington Cup in seven days’ time.
“We’ll go for the Wellington Cup now,” Matamata trainer Wayne Hillis said after today’s Group Three success. “We’ll stay down here all week. I didn’t want to go backwards and forwards, so we’re here for the week. I couldn’t believe she was at $21 for the Cup – I’ve got some of that.”
A possible contributing factor to her large odds for the Wellington Cup was that her only run between her Manawatu Cup success and today’s Trentham triumph was an unplaced finish in the Gr. 3 City of Auckland Cup at Ellerslie. But she had no luck at all that day, significantly hampered by a tiring runner in the straight, and she today she set the record straight and showed her class. Perfect Start is now rated a $9 chance for the Wellington Cup, equal third favourite with Just The Tip.
Perfect Start had to show every bit of her quality today, faced with a stiff task to run down a leader who was showing no sign of stopping in the $70,000 event.
Decorah was given a terrific ride by Matt Cameron, beautifully positioned close to a slow pace set by southern longshot Our Bee Jay. Decorah then went for gold in the straight with what looked like a winning move.
It was going to take something special to run Decorah down, and Perfect Start showed that she was up to the task. She slowly but surely wore the Pins mare down, relentlessly closing the gap down the straight before snatching victory right on the line. Favourite Delveen found the line strongly in the last 100 metres to take third.
“She’s dug really deep,” winning rider Danielle Johnson said. “The leaders got a few easy sectionals out in front and she’s had to come from a wee way off them. She’s not a big horse but she’s so gutsy. She definitely will be a big chance in the Wellington Cup.”
It was a thrilling finish, one Hillis initially doubted had gone his way.
“I wasn’t sure if she’d got there because I was watching from a bad angle,” he said. “But she’s running well. She’s only recently started going over a distance and she’s really coming to it now.”
Perfect Start’s overall record stands at 38 starts for eight wins and eight placings. But this season she has had eight starts for three wins and a placing, clearly showing what maturity and a middle distance can do. She has found her calling at 2000 metres and beyond. She has proven that seven-day turnarounds pose no problems, making her a huge threat in the $200,000 feature next Saturday.
Richard Edmunds, The Informant