Dual-code Perks stable growing in size

Stayer Blue Swimmer winning at the Gold Coast on Saturday.

It took almost a year for the Ashley Perks stable to grab their maiden winner in the gallops and it is very unlikely it will take that long for the second victory to come around.

Perks – who has dabbled in the thoroughbreds and the pacers over the last few years – prepared his first gallops winner on Saturday afternoon on the Polytrack at the Gold Coast.

It came at start 21 in the training tenure for Perks with stayer Blue Swimmer.

Perks has mainly poked around with maiden horses since he had his first starter in October of last year but that will all change this Saturday in town.

The fledgling trainer has Corona Lad in the Colts, Geldings and Entires Benchmark 72 Handicap over 1200 metres at Eagle Farm.

Top hoop Ben Thompson is booked to do the riding duties.

Perks and his family have always raced and owned Corona Lad with the gelding winning two Victorian races earlier in his career for Nathan Dunn.

The five-year-old bay has recently transferred north to Perks’ barn and will now do his racing in the Sunshine State.

After contesting black-type races in Victoria, there is every chance Corona Lad will add to Perks’ winning tally fairly quickly in the Sunshine State.

“It took him a while to adjust to Queensland but I think he is coming good now,” Perks said.

“There is a bit more pressure with a horse like him compared to the other ones we have got (laughs).

“If I can get him to go as well as Nathan did, then I think he will be pretty competitive up here. That is the challenge now for us.”

Unbeaten in his first two career starts, Corona Lad was an emergency for the Australian Guineas in early 2022.

While the challenge starts now with Corona Lad for the Perks stable, they can still look back on last weekend and be on cloud nine for their achievements.

Blue Swimmer won at the Gold Coast on Saturday before stable mate Thorsby ran into third on Sunday at Caloundra in maiden grade after leading much of the 1400 metre trip.

The Perks stable celebrating a Letsplayuni victory at Redcliffe.

The 55-year-old trains his small team of horses alongside his wife and children, with the horses’ performances well and truly a family effort.

They have found encouraging results over the last year – being placed on six occasions from 16 starts on the country and provincial circuit – before they were able to grab their maiden triumph.

The race Perks and Blue Swimmer claimed was the second running of the Arron Kennedy Memorial event, which is a highlight of the Gold Coast’s annual Men Matter Charity Raceday.

It is named after the late jockey Arron Kennedy.  

The popular race meeting raises money for men’s mental and physical health charities.

With family members of the late Kennedy at the track on Saturday, Perks said it was great to remember his life while also celebrating their own race day success.

“It was super exciting, we have been playing with the thoroughbreds for almost a year now,” he said.

“We have had a lot of placings recently but to get a winner, it was incredible.

“We felt like we won the Cox Plate but that is the thrill of racing isn’t it?

“It means a lot to everyone and it brings a lot of joy to a lot of people.”

Also a five-year-old gelding, Blue Swimmer has come through the maiden grade victory well and will back-up seven days later.

Nevada Yankee getting the money at Redcliffe for the Perks stable.

He again heads to the Polytrack for a Class 1 event over the same trip he won over last week, 1900 metres.

Emerging apprentice Emily Lang has done the steering of Blue Swimmer in his last two starts and has struck up a strong association with the gelding.

“It took a while as he has had a few setbacks along the way as he is not a big horse,” Perks said of Blue Swimmer.

“It took a while for him to fill out. The horse is a family affair, we bought him online during Covid and we did not pay much for him.

“I think he will be competitive again this week.”

Originally from South Australia, the Perks clan have relocated north over the last couple of years and have been heavily involved in both codes of horse racing in Queensland.

He collected his first victory in the harness code at ‘The Triangle’ with Letsplayuni in January of 2022.

The family have since added 11 more victories, with the latest coming with Nevada Yankee in late June.

As the number of gallopers in the barn has increased, that has meant the pacers have slowed down, with just Nevada Yankee in work at the moment.

They previously had as many as five pacers in work.

Emerging apprentice Emily Lang riding at the Gold Coast.

By Jordan Gerrans