Perth racing starts its year off with the Perth Cup and a huge 10-race card at Ascot.
With William Pike unable to ride on the program, there will be no ‘Back Pike Drink What You Like.’
But our team has found a heap of best bets to back with confidence with the best of the day coming up in race four.
Ascot race 4
Acromantula is ready to win after a solid first-up run back in November.
The gelding has since had a gap between runs and comes into this race after following that very sharp 57.63 runner-up placing when resuming.
He looks like the leader in this race and should be able to control the race tempo to his liking.
A repeat of that first-up effort will see him at least two to three lengths clear of his main challenger in Go Forward who won well last start, but in much slower time than what our selection is capable of producing.
Suggested Bet: Acromantula win at $2.5
ascot race 6
Mervyn is a veteran West Australian sprinter who still has a spring in his step even at the ripe-old racing age of eight.
He has raced in much tougher company than he faces in this race following his efforts behind Elite Street at his last two starts.
Dropping back in grade, drawing an inside barrier and getting the services of Brad Rawiller should see him get a lovely trailing run behind a hot lead speed.
Looks the each-way play of the day.
Suggested Bet: Mervyn each-way at $9 the win and $2.35 the place.
Suggested Exotic: Boxed Trifecta – 2, 6, 10
Ascot race 8
#1 dance music
Dance Music looks over the odds at the current price.
The six-year-old mare is the likely leader of the race and did start the shortest in the lead-up event as a $2.30 favourite.
She had to do a bit too much early in the run to find the front and knocked up late in the race after leading the field up into a headwind.
She was still kicking strongly at the 100-metre mark, but the tough run told late.
Any rain about on the program will improve her chances in this race and given she maps to lead them up yet again, expect her to start shorter than he current quote.
She did win this race last year, so there is clear intent from the trainer to have her cherry ripe for this run.
Suggested Bet: Dance Music win at $4.4
Suggested Exotic: Quinella 1 & 4
ascot race 9
#15 staffords lad
Staffords Lad won like a true stayer last start and can easily replicate that form in the Perth Cup.
He is racing in a big purple patch of form at the moment and showed great sustained speed to win from barrier 10 in A.T.A Stakes a fortnight ago.
This seven-year-old gelding gets into this race on the minimum weight and draws barrier one, which will see him get a charmed energy-conserving run up on the fence.
Will need a little bit of luck from the inside, but if the gaps open, he will be surging through with his turn of acceleration under the light weight.
Tough to see him missing a place at the very worst.
Suggested Bet: Staffords Lad each-way at $6.5 the win and $2.4 the place.