An unorthodox move to have a track gallop early today will top off Sydney stayer Cantonese perfectly for the $500,000 Golden River Developments Perth Cup (2400m).
Part-owner Craig Tognolini said Cantonese had settled into Perth so well that trainer Bjorn Baker had decided an early morning workout would bring him to his top for today's big race at Ascot.
Baker and a big contingent of Cantonese's owners and their families flew into Perth yesterday confident of the five-year-old's claims in the Group 2 feature.
Cantonese is the second favourite behind Mr Moet at $4.40 with Player.
"We went out to Ascot to see him and he looks terrific," Tognolini said.
"His track rider (Joseph Bishop) said he's really turned the corner since last Wednesday. His work is as good, if not better, than leading into the Christmas Cup.
"He always gallops on race day. It's a bit strange but he races best on the quick back-up and that's why Bjorn gives him another hit-out just before his races."
Tognolini grew up in WA before moving to NSW to start a payroll management business.
He also operates syndication company Trainer Connections, which has horses with Baker, Tim Martin and Michael Costa in NSW and Capel-based trainer Bruce Watkins.
He now has high hopes of another feature win, just 10 days after he teamed up with Baker and debutant two-year-old Twilight Royale to win the $250,000 Inglis Nursery Stakes at Warwick Farm.
Cantonese was a late entrant for the Perth Cup after his six-length romp in the Christmas Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on December 15.
"We're really excited and really confident," Tognolini said.
"You don't get a crack at a $500,000 race with an in-form horse too often and the favourite (Chester Road) coming out helps us."
Jockey Jim Cassidy arrived in Perth on Sunday to take full advantage of the sweltering heat, stripping more than 1kg to get down to 54kg to ride Cantonese.
"It's a test for the horse, especially with the weather," Cassidy said.
"But there's no reason why he shouldn't run a big race.
"His sectional times in Sydney have been very good."