Peters commits army to winning WA's toughest race

6 min read
Owner-breeder Bob Peters has four runners in Saturday's G1 Kirin Railway S. as he looks to win what he says is WA's toughest race for a third time.

Bob Peters' iconic cerise and white colours will make up more than a quarter of the field in Saturday's G1 Kirin Railway S. at Ascot, but the leviathan owner and breeder knows from experience that numbers are no guarantee of success in what he describes as the hardest of the Perth features to win.

Bob and his wife Sandra have been the dominant force in Western Australian racing for the better part of 20 years. They usually aim an army at the Railway S. and this year is no exception with favourite Galaxy Star (Redoute's Choice) joined by Action (Pierro), Perfect Jewel (Redoute's Choice) and Star Exhibit (Statue of Liberty {USA}).

Dominant WA owners, Sandra and Bob Peters

But while Peters has enjoyed phenomenal success in races such as the G1 Kingston Town Classic (four winners), the G2 Perth Cup (7), G2 WA Derby (8) and G3 WA Oaks (9), the Railway S. has proven a tougher nut to crack with just two victories from Elite Belle (Canny Lad) (2014) and Old Comrade (Old Spice) (2001).

"There's no doubt it’s the hardest race over here to win." - Bob Peters

"There's no doubt it’s the hardest race over here to win. We've had runners in it probably every year and we've only won it twice. Compared to most of the other big races, it’s a hard race to win," Peters told TDN AusNZ.

"It takes a good horse to win it, because it’s always a hard-run race and it's a handicap."

Star of the show

Galaxy Star, trained by Grant and Alana Williams, certainly holds the right profile to provide Peters with his third success in the race.

The lightly raced 6-year-old, a winner of nine of her 12 starts, is on the limit weight of 53kg. Six of the past seven winners of the race have carried 53.5kg or less.

The slight concern for her owner is that she came up with barrier 2, which for a get back-and-run-on mare like her could prove a disadvantage.

"The barrier does worry me a bit because she's not an up-on-the-pace sort of mare and she could get caught up on the rail." - Bob Peters

"The barrier does worry me a bit because she's not an up-on-the-pace sort of mare and she could get caught up on the rail," he said.

"She's ready for the race. It's never easy to win, you can get caught up, and all sorts of things can happen in a race like that. You need a little bit of luck as well to go your way."

"You need a little bit of luck as well to go your way." - Bob Peters

Having lost her dam Galaxy Queen (Jeune {GB}) soon after Galaxy Star was born, Peters admitted he was keen to treat the only filly she had with kid gloves.

Galaxy Star

He has shown particular patience with Galaxy Star, not debuting her until she was four and stepping her through her ratings races until this campaign, when she elevated to stakes class, claiming her first black-type win last start in the G3 Asian Beau S.

"I think it’s helped her, because she's taken time to mature," Peters said.

"I've given her plenty of time because she was the only filly from her dam, and I had a lot of time for her dam."

The back-up

Action, the winner of this year's WA Derby, was second behind Galaxy Star in the Asian Beau S. before a slightly disappointing fifth in the race named in honour of his owner, the G3 RJ Peters S. last week.

Peters is hoping the quick back-up can sharpen Action up for the Railway S. but upcoming races like the G1 Kingston Town Classic and the G2 Perth Cup may prove more suitable.

"He looks like he might be getting a bit more dour now. He needs a bit more ground but we won't know that until after Saturday," he said.

Half-siblings Perfect Jewel and Star Exhibit hail from the same family as Galaxy Star. Their dam, Star Encounter, is a full-sister to Galaxy Queen.

Perfect Jewel won the G2 WA Guineas on this day last year and Peters' feels she can make her presence felt from barrier seven, while Star Exhibit, who is trained by Adam Durrant, is on a path back to the Perth Cup, a race he won in late 2016.

Bigger than ever

The cerise with white crosses will be ubiquitous on Perth Racing's biggest day on Saturday, with 18 runners in total across the nine races.

Peters admits that his racing and breeding interests are even bigger than ever, with the likes of Galaxy Star, Perfect Jewel and G1 Winterbottom S. fancy Enticing Star (Testa Rossa) likely to be added to Peters' significant broodmare band in coming seasons.

"It seems to keep growing, I wish it wouldn't, but it just keeps getting bigger." - Bob Peters

"It seems to keep growing, I wish it wouldn't, but it just keeps getting bigger," he said.

"We breed most of our own and we get some nice fillies out of it, which ended up joining the broodmare band. Once that happens, the production line starts."

Peters' ever-expanding broodmare interests are spread across Australia and New Zealand, but he wouldn’t confirm exactly how many mares he owned.

Perfect Reflection winning the G1 Kingston Town S.

"I'm embarrassed to say. I give myself limits and I can’t keep to them. Let’s put it this way, it’s too many," he said.

"We're spread out, some in Queensland, some in New South Wales, some in Victoria and some in New Zealand."

"I'm embarrassed to say. I give myself limits and I can’t keep to them." - Bob Peters

Peters' eastern seaboard mares are located with Holbrook Thoroughbreds and Newhaven Park in New South Wales, Milford Thoroughbreds in Victoria and Oaklands Stud in Queensland while they are also at four farms across New Zealand.

Some of the Peters' mares are kept at Holbrook Thoroughbreds in the Hunter Valley

Peters, who employs the services of multiple trainers, heads the breeding and racing operation from the Peters Investment office in Cottesloe, with some clear goals for success.

"Getting stakes wins is our main aim, and the overall performance of the winners and improving the broodmare band important as well," he said.

The state of play

There are few people better placed than Peters to assess the current state of the thoroughbred industry in Western Australia.

The experienced owner and breeder says the lack of progress on aspects such as the sale of the TAB and the redevelopment at Belmont Racecourse have caused a degree of stagnation.

Bob Peters with agent, Damon Gabbedy

Despite this, he remains committed to his significant investment.

"The industry always goes on. It will always be there," he said.

His focus is firmly on success over the coming weeks, with multiple chances expected in all the major races, including the Winterbottom with Enticing Star, the 5-year-old mare who has lost just once in nine starts.

"This time of the year is very important for us as well as the autumn with the 3-year olds. These are the times we focus on for success," he said.