It has been four years since Paul Perry’s last G1 win but Rosehill Guineas runner-up Sky Lab might be the horse to break the drought.
Most famous for his trailblazing feats with internationally renowned sprinter Choisir, Perry, by his own admission, has had a quiet couple of seasons.
His big race runners have been few and far between and his last success at the top level was with The Mission in the 2017 Champagne Stakes.
But after picking out Sky Lab as a yearling in the paddocks at Arrowfield Stud, Perry was quick to identify his staying promise, setting Saturday’s G1 Australian Derby (2400m) as a long-range target after he won a middle-distance race at Newcastle in August.
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“When he came back, he came back a hell of a lot brighter and he was running on better in his races, a lot stronger,” Perry said.
“So we upped the ante a bit with him and he stood up to it.”
After returning with successive wins at Wyong and Randwick, Sky Lab took on the older horses and ran on strongly for an eye-catching fourth to Yonkers.
Perry raised the bar again to the Rosehill Guineas and despite drawing the outside barrier, Sky Lab again finished resolutely to beat all but Mo’unga.
“He is one of those horses who likes to get out and build and he got a bit cluttered up (two starts ago),” Perry said.
“I thought that run was good, but his last run was really nice.”
The stable will also start Olympic Gaze, one of the few horses in Saturday’s classic to have raced over 2400m, finishing fourth against older horses on the Kensington track last month.
Perry will be chasing his first Derby victory, his best previous result a fourth with Southern Skye in the 2009 Victorian classic.