Perfect Marshall will return to the scene of his greatest triumph on Saturday night for what connections hope will be the second last start of his career in the heats of the Group 1 Hume Cup (600m) at The Meadows.
Retirement beckons for the middle distance star, which celebrated a career-defining victory in the Group 1 Rookie Rebel invitational over the same course and distance back in February.
“I reckon if he doesn’t qualify on Saturday night we’ll pull up stumps,” said Dave Knocker, who trains Perfect Marshall with partner Janet Cottrell.
“He’s done enough for us and if he can have his swansong in the final it will be a bonus.
“Hopefully he can go one better than last year’s Hume Cup heats.
“He ran second in his heat but there were five heats and he missed out on the final. He was first reserve but came out and won a Mixed 4/5 grade in faster time than they ran in the Hume Cup.”
With four heats being held on Saturday, first or second place will see Perfect Marshall, the winner of 21 of his 55 starts, advance to the Hume Cup Final, the highlight of The Meadows’ traditional Melbourne Cup Eve meeting on Monday, November 2.
Perfect Marshall will contest the opening heat (race 4 at 7.42pm), drawn in box one, from where he famously led all-the-way to win the Rookie Rebel earlier in the year.
While it’s Perfect Marshall’s first 600m assignment since scoring at Sandown Park on August 13 he looks generous odds at $7 in TAB’s market, where Robert Britton’s last start Group 3 Sydney Cup victor Here’s Tears is $2.40 favourite.
“There haven’t been many 600m races for his grade so we dropped him back in a few 500s to keep him going and he’s got plenty underneath him,” Knocker said.
“He won the Rookie Rebel off the red when he lobbed straight on the lure. Box one brings them out and I’m hoping he begins like he did last Saturday when he nearly led the free-for-all sprint.
“I give the dog a chance. You’ve always got to give him a chance if he can lead.
“I think there’s two really good heats and two lesser heats and Perfect Marshall is in one of the harder ones. Here’s Tears will be hard to beat and I’m also a bit wary of Zipping Zeek (box 2), which has come down from NSW.
“Perfect Marshall has been invited to nominate for the Topgun, which isn’t bad for a four-year-old! He’s not going to get a run but it looks pretty good on his stud resume.
“We’re excited about him going to stud. He’s a Group 1 winner, he’s very well-bred, he’s a fantastic chaser and we’ve already had a lot of interest from some of the best breeders in the country.”
Knocker’s teenage daughter, Kayla Cottrell, also has a Hume Cup contender in Big Jo, which is a $5 chance in the fourth and final heat from box three, stepping up in distance after blowing the start in the Group 3 Great Chase semi-finals.