Pearce Racing strengthened its hand for the G2 Perth Cup (2400m) with a quinella in the LR ATA Stakes (2200m) at Ascot on Wednesday.

Stablemates Queen Alina (Mahuta) and Black Fantasy (Blackfriars) controlled the feature staying event from barrier rise until the mare edged clear with a 3kg pull in the weights.

“She’s done a good job and deserved this one,” co-trainer Dan Pearce said referring to her recent placings in the LR Luckygray Stakes (1800m) and LR Towton Cup (2200m).

“I thought she was going to be back midfield but she bounced and it worked out perfectly.  The weight difference brought her right into the race.

“But Black Fantasy can even things up back at equal weights in the Perth Cup.  It’s exciting to have two really good chances heading into a $1 million race.”

Bookmakers have Black Fantasy at $7 with Queen Alina priced at $13 for the New Year staying test.  “They will spend a fair amount of time down the beach in the next twelve days,” Pearce said.  “They’ve both had enough runs under their belts and are fit enough.”

Queen Alina (Green cap / Photo: Western Racepix) is from the first crop of Lynward Park sire Mahuta (Flying Spur) and is also his first Stakes-winner.  The 5yo mare is a homebred for Lynward Park’s van Heemst family who bought her dam High Aims (Southern Image) for $85,000 at the 2015 Inglis Australian Broodmare Sale.

Trainer David Brideoake had prepared High Aims to three wins at Sandown’s Hillside and Lakeside circuits as well as a Tatura Cup.  The ATA Cup winner was the first of four foals by Mahuta.  The only other one to race is Colin Loxton’s recent Ascot winner Highest Award.

High Aims has a yearling colt by Lynward Park sire Bondi that been catalogued as Lot 261 for the 2024 Perth Magic Millions Yearling Sale.  There’s also a colt on the ground by Champion WA sire Playing God.

Lynward Park has 8 yearlings preparing for the Swan Valley Sale in February including a Yes Yes Yes colt (Lot 79) from I’m Feeling Lucky (Bletchley Park).  The dam won a G3 La Trice Classic and is a half-sister to Utgard Loki (LR Pinjarra Bull & Bush Cup) and Baronova. (LR Belmont Classic).