Sydney trainer Bjorn Baker says his iron horse Cantonese does not have to lead to win Tuesday's $500,000 Golden River Developments Perth Cup (2400m).
Surprisingly, the Warwick Farm-based horseman wasn't disappointed by Cantonese drawing barrier 19 on Thursday night.
Baker bypassed Wednesday's Summer Cup (2400m) at Rosehill, instead sending the regally-bred son of Redoute's Choice to WA to chase the riches on offer at Ascot.
He believed the five-year-old would have copped 59kg in the Summer Cup compared to his 54kg in the Perth Cup.
Ridden by his Perth Cup jockey Jim Cassidy, Cantonese dictated terms in front and posted a slashing six-length win in the Christmas Cup (2400m) at his last start at Rosehill on December 15.
"I'm not bothered by the draw," Baker said. "He can roll along and go forward. He's pretty adaptable.
"The only race he led from start to finish was last time.
"If there is no genuine tempo, he'll lead but if there isn't, he'll sit on them."
Cantonese has done all of his racing in the clockwise direction.
Baker gave him a gallop on the Ascot course proper earlier this week and was satisfied at his performance in the opposite direction.
"He seemed to handle the turns pretty well," he said.
"We're happy enough with him. I'd like to think he'd be pretty adaptable but sometimes you don't know until they hit race pressure."
Baker said Cantonese appeared to have coped with Perth's extreme heat, eating and drinking well.
Trainer John Thompson, who won the Group 1 Railway Stakes with Gathering at his maiden venture to Perth two years ago, brought Shamardashing to Ascot midway through last month to allow the six-year-old to acclimatise to WA and to the anti-clockwise direction of racing.
Apart from one start at Flemington over 1400m on November 10, Shamardashing has done all of his racing in Queensland and NSW.
Perth Cup-winning jockey Patrick Carbery (Lottila Bay, 2001) has ridden the gelding at his past two starts, when he ran ninth in the Kingston Town Classic (1800m) on December 8 and ninth in last Saturday's Cox Stakes (2100m).
Both races were at weight-for-age where the son of Shamardal from the WA Oaks and WATC Derby winner Beaux Art, carried 59kg.
He drops 6kg to the 53kg limit in the Perth Cup, with punters showing keen support, backing him from $31 into $14 this week.
The Grafton Cup (2350m) winner drew 13, but if the emergencies come out as expected, he would jump from nine.
"At his first couple of races he didn't handle the tight home corner," Thompson said.
"We've had to ride him back because of the wide barriers and keeping in mind he wasn't handling the corner. We hope to have him more forward in the cup."
- PLAYER MARKET *
- PERTH CUP *
$3.80 Chester Road; $4 Mr Moet; $5.50 Cantonese; $7.50 Pop Culture; $13 Ranger, Global Flirt; $14 Shamardashing; $17 Bridgestone; $21 Big Josh; $26 Playing God, God Has Spoken, Moonlight Bay; $31 Starlight Lady; $51 Westriver Kevydonn, Lords Ransom, Dreamaway, Lopov, Talent Show, Malaika; $101 Battle Emblem.