Ken Casellas | Photo: Hamilton Content Creators
Champion reinsman Chris Lewis notched a record eighth victory in the J. P. Stratton Cup when he brought Perfect Major home with a spectacular burst of speed to win the $50,000 group 2 feature event at Gloucester Park on Friday night.
Perfect Major, an $18.60 chance from out wide at barrier No. 8, raced in last position in the field of nine before starting a three-wide move 300m from home, going four and five wide on the home turn and flying home to snatch a last-stride victory by a head over the pacemaker Vampiro ($2.60), with Star of Diamonds ($13) an excellent third.
Perfect Major, a Victorian-bred five-year-old son of Art Major, was sold to American interests (depending on a satisfactory veterinary test) just over three weeks ago. The sale fell through when the gelding failed the vet test.
Perfect Major’s South Australian owners Bruce and Craig Cameron and Oakford trainer Ross Olivieri are now setting the gelding for the rich Fremantle and WA Pacing Cups in the coming summer.
“When he was last on the home turn, I thought he could run a place because he was starting to come home strongly,” said Olivieri, who had won the Stratton Cup with Just Packapunch in 1993 and Sensational Gabby in 2014.
“Then in the second half of the home straight he absolutely motored. He has recently had a little rest, and that’s why he is racing with a bit of verve. He has won five or six Free For Alls, and I think he is underestimated.”
Friday night’s victory boosted Perfect Major’s record to 51 starts for 18 wins, 14 placings and stakes of $260,743. His 25 starts in Western Australia for Olivieri have produced ten wins and five placings.
Lewis and Olivieri combined to win the 2014 Stratton Cup with Sensational Gabby, with Lewis also winning this event with Black Irish (1983), Village Kid (1985, 1988 and 1991), Ohoka Ace (2005) and Sneakyn Down Under (2009).