Gardner continues to dominate in Alice Springs thanks to Perkova

Alice Springs trainer Paul Gardner (right), who is enjoying a marvelous start to the 2023/24 season, enjoying a day out at the races at Pioneer Park with sons Jeremy (left) and Josh.

Paul Gardner’s dream run in the Alice Springs and Provincial trainers’ premiership continued on Saturday with five-year-old mare Perkova sealing back-to-back wins at Pioneer Park.

With Darwin jockey Sonja Logan on board, Perkova ($3.10) eclipsed Terry Gillett’s pair Great Buy ($1.80 fav) and Supreme Times ($9.50) in an exciting climax to the Alice Springs Turf Club’s feature over 1400m (BM76).

Debuting over 1600m (0-64) last weekend, the daughter of Per Incanto was out on her feet after virtually leading from start to finish before rolling Gillett’s Tintern Power by half a length.

Having started her career at Bjorn Baker’s Warwick Farm stable, Perkova made it three wins from 10 starts for Gardner after debuting on Palmerston Sprint Day during the Darwin Cup Carnival in August.

That day Perkova was second over 1000m (0-62) before settling in the Red Centre where she has missed a place on just three occasions.

A seventh career win from 25 starts made it 13.5 wins for the 2023/24 campaign for Gardner, who has never won Central Australia’s trainers’ premiership.
Gardner leads the way from Lisa Whittle (9), Greg Connor (7) and Gillett (6).

Perkova sat outside fellow leader Great Buy (Ianish Luximon), who was seeking a fourth win from five starts, in the five-horse field with Supreme Times (Stan Tsaikos) close by in third place.

The pressure mounted when Supreme Times circled the leaders at the 400m and once turning for home little separated the trio.

At the 200m, Great Buy (60kg), who never left the fence after jumping from the inside gate, looked like pinching victory before Perkova (55.5kg) lifted to win by 0.2 lengths – Supreme Times (60.5kg) wasn’t that far away in third place.

Logan, who rode Perkova to victory last weekend, had partnered Great Buy when he won his last two starts, but Luximon was able to claim 2kg when Gillett’s horse received 62kg.

Gillett didn’t go home empty handed when Tintern Power ($1.65 fav), a six-year-old gelding by Star Witness, finally saluted at the seventh attempt at Pioneer Park after prevailing over 1600m (BM54).

After chasing Perkova home last Saturday, Tintern Power (Tsaikos) settled nicely in fourth place on the fence before circling The Chaplain and Vitesse Breeze with 350m to go once turning for home.

Kevin Lamprecht’s Iknowhatyouredoing ($9), who butchered the start and was eight lengths off the pace passing the 1100m, rallied and was in full flight as he joined The Chaplain, Vitesse Breeze and Tintern Power out in front at the 300m.

Iknowhatyouredoing (Luximon), camped four wide, looked the likely winner at the 200m before Tintern Power saluted by 0.4 lengths with Whittle’s $81 hope The Chaplain (Paul Denton) a distant third.

Tintern Power, who had three seconds on his Alice Springs CV, was a deserved winner, but Iknowhatyouredoing’s poor start was decisive.

Excuses Excuses ($2.50 fav) continues to impress for Whittle when he overcame Ray Viney’s fast-finishing Rock Of Kryptonite ($6.50) and Connor’s Trystoff ($2.90) by almost two lengths over 1100m (0-64).

Formerly trained by James Carroll, Excuses Excuses, an eight-year-old gelding, has had three starts for Whittle for two wins, while Carroll celebrated when the son of Kaphero won on his NT debut on Alice Springs Cup Day on April 30.

After sitting three deep in fourth place, Excuses Excuses (Jade Hampson) was two lengths behind runaway leader Lamoree in second place passing the 500m before edging clear in the home straight.

Rock Of Kryptonite (Jessie Philpot) was eight lengths behind Lamoree, a gallant fourth after jumping from the outside gate in the eight-horse field, in last place at the 500m before rocketing home, while Trystoff (Emma Lines) was third after threatening at the 600m.

For Hampson, it was her first Alice Springs win this season.

Fellow apprentices, Darwin’s Emma Lines and local rider Luximon, also impressed aboard Connor’s Bold Tropic ($3.60 fav) over 1200m (0-58) and Lamprecht’s Skilton ($3.60) in the 1100m maiden, respectively.

Bold Tropic, a six-year-old gelding by Zoustar, ended a 14-month drought when he outclassed Viney’s $6.50 betting site chance Celine (Philpot) and Lamprecht’s $11 fancy Lisa (Luximon) – both did little wrong.

Having settled three deep behind the leaders, Bold Tropic found the fence and was fourth at the 500m before kicking away in the home straight after going toe to toe with Celine and Lisa.

Jumping from the outside gate (9), Skilton was forced seven deep after a frantic start before Luximon had him sitting three deep in sixth place, passing the 800m.

Skilton, a four-year-old gelding by Ilovethiscity, a first up third in a maiden on Remembrance Day, was then forced four deep turning for home before challenging new arrival Jackset, Flash Fiorente and Macer’s Razor ($2.45 fav) for the lead passing the 200m.

Amazingly, Skilton showed no sign of tiredness before toppling Gillett’s Macer’s Razor (Tsaikos), a narrow second in that maiden on November 11, by half a length with Whittle’s Jackset (Hampson), starting at $15, 1.6 lengths away in third place.

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