Punters, who took the vice-like odds at $1.50 had a few heart palpitations at the 350m, when leading rider William Pike had to stoke up Galaxy Star (Redoute’s Choice).
The glamour mare responded to Pike’s urgings strongly to reel in the well backed ($4.60 into $3.70) Gatting (Hard Spun) and Perfect Jewel (Redoute's Choice) inside the last 100m and run away to her third feature win at her past four Ascot starts.
The Peters-owned Perfect Jewel ($11) underlined she was in contention for the Perth Cup when forced to lead for most of the 2100m distance, because of the slow pace.
The Peters family are riding high in the stratosphere having made a virtual clean-sweep of the big races on the Summer Carnival, with Galaxy Star winning the Group 3 Asian Beau Stakes (1400m), Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) and now the Group 2 Van Heemst.
Star filly Arcadia Queen (Pierro) won the Group 3 WA Champion Fillies’ Stakes (1600m), Group 2 WA Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m). (Galaxy Star ran third in the Kingston Town)
The Peters-owned mare Enticing Star (Testa Rossa) almost made it a clean slate of the Ascot Group 1s, when finishing a close second to Voodoo Lad (I Am Invincible) in the Winterbottom Stakes on December 1.
Galaxy Star is the hot $3.30 favourite on TABtouch to win the $500,000 Perth Cup (2400m) on January 5.
Perth Cup contingent
Monday’s release of weights for the Perth Cup will prove critical as to whether Galaxy Star takes her place in the field.
Galaxy Star is the highest rated horse on 110 points (before her win in the Van Heemst) and would be the Perth Cup top-weight. The minimum top-weight in the Cup is 59kg.
“We will have to wait and see what the weights are on Monday." - Owner, Bob Peters
Peters’ has vivid memories of another outstanding mare Delicacy (Al Maher), who carried top-weight on 59kg to win the 2016 (Jan) Perth Cup, but injured both of her front tendons and never raced again.
Peters have Perfect Jewel, WATC Derby winner Action, Tattersall’s Cup victor Mississippi Delta and 2016 (Dec) Perth Cup champion Star Exhibit headlining a strong contingent into the Perth Cup.
Star Exhibit at $51 and carrying 59kg in the weight-for-age Van Heemst signaled he was on target for the Cup with a strong last to fifth place. He will drop in weight, with a 103 rating, in the Cup.
Getting the job done
“We will have to wait and see what the weights are on Monday,” Bob Peters said. “She gave Gatting (59kg) two kilos today and beat him by a length and a half. I did not think she was as impressive today as she had been in the Railway and Kingston Town. She looked to be struggling on the corner, but in the end she did win well. I thought it was more of a tradesmanlike effort by her today."
"She looked to be struggling on the corner, but in the end she did win well." - Bob Peters
“Perfect Jewel has kept on improving with each start. We did not expect her to lead today and she fought on well. I think there is still a little more improvement in her.”
William Pike, who rode Galaxy Star and Arcadia Queen at their big wins over the carnival, was happy with the six-year-old mare’s performance.
“She may have lacked a bit of the zip she showed earlier in her campaign, but she is now deep into her preparation and she got the job done,” Pike said.
A history of winning
It was Peters’ fifth win in the Van Heemst.
Alana Williams who co-trains Galaxy Star and Arcadia Queen with her husband Grant, rode their first winner on Old Money in 2000.
The ill-fated Elite Belle won the Railway-Van Heemst stakes double in 2014, followed by Delicacy in 2015 and Perfect Reflection in 2016.
Galaxy Star’s dam Galaxy Queen (Jeune-Lady Ashford) died after producing only two foals.
Her first foal was Galaxy Son (Statue Of Liberty) who claimed five wins.
Peters is banking on Galaxy Star picking up the cudgel from her dam when she retires from racing.
"I think she will go on to be one of my leading broodmares.” - Bob Peters
“I thought Galaxy Queen was going to be one of our best broodmares,” Peters said. “Because she died I have been very careful with this mare.
“She had a few issues early on and we gave her plenty of time to grow out of them. I think she will go on to be one of my leading broodmares.”
Galaxy Star has won 11 times and been placed on four occasions from her 15 starts for prize money of $1,309,000.
The Big Show
The Big Show (Frost Giant) staked his claim for the Perth Cup with a sustained front-running win in the Seppelt “The Drives” Handicap (2100m).
The Big Show, who was backed from $2.40 into a $1.70 favourite, gives trainer Darren McAuliffe a good second a string to Gatting in the Cup.
The Big Show will get into the Cup on the 53kg limit with his low rating.
McAuliffe said he would wait to see the Cup weights on Monday before declaring Gatting (rated at 108) a runner in the Cup.
Trainer Justin Warwick scratched the Van Heemst second favourite and reigning Perth Cup winner Material Man from the race because of the severe heat.
The meeting was put back to start at 2.44pm because of a forecast of 39C.
Material Man (rated 112) will not defend his Perth Cup title, instead be reserved for the $5 million All Stars Mile, run at Flemington, on March 16.