Perth’s winter weight-for-age feature races are at the mercy of Western Empire following his latest victory in the G3 Belmont Sprint (1400m) on Saturday.

The Peters Investments-bred galloper nailed courageous mare Searchin’ Roc’s (Awesome Rock) right on the line in the Belmont Sprint.  (Photo / Western Racepix). He had won the G3 Northam Stakes (1300m) earlier this month and will now be set for the G3 Hyperion Stakes (1600m) and G3 Strickland Stakes (2000m) at Belmont in June.

Western Empire’s connections are also considering setting him for Australia’s weight-for-age crown in the G1 W S Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in October.  “He obviously had a bit to do today,” part-owner and co-trainer Grant Williams said.  “He had a wide run and really stretched his neck out to get the win.

“Looking at him in the yard, it appeared he needed a mile already.  Hopefully. he might draw a bit better next time and have an easier time of it.

“The plan is the Hyperion into the Strickland.  We want to get to the Strickland if we’re going to think about taking him back east.

“But we’ve always got to put the horse first.  We’ve been pretty lucky to snag him, so we’re going to have to make it work for us.”

Western Empire (6g Iffraaj – Western Jewel by Jeune) had won 7 of his first 12 starts in the cerise and white silks for Peters Investments.  He claimed the G2 WA Derby (2400m) in April of 2021 and finished that year with a triumphant four-length victory in the G1 Railway Stakes (1600m).

Subsequent stints with Victorian trainers Danny O’Brien and John Leek didn’t work out and he was sold for $150,000 through an Inglis Digital Sale last October to Team Williams and Andrew Latassa.

His dam Western Jewel won the G2 Perth Cup (2400m) in 2011 and among her other foals is LR Bunbury Stakes (1400m) winner Western Temple (Dream Ahead).  Her 2023 cover was an early-season service to Playing God in the first week of September.