More Group Success for Kiwi Bred Western Empire

Media Release - Sunday May 19

The resurgence of a former superstar of Perth racing continued when Western Empire lived up to his $1.85 favouritism in Saturday’s Gr.3 Furphy Belmont Sprint (1400m).

Western Empire added another Group win to his record on Saturday taking out the Gr.3 Belmont Sprint. Photo: Western Racepix

The son of Iffraaj won seven of his first 12 starts in 2020 and 2021, including a stunning four-length romp in the Gr.1 Railway Stakes (1600m) and victory in the Gr.2 WA Derby (2400m).

Western Empire was trained through those glory days by Grant and Alana Williams for powerhouse Perth owner Bob Peters. The gelding subsequently had two campaigns in Victoria, finishing fifth in the Gr.1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) and Gr.1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) for Danny O’Brien and finishing outside the placings in five appearances for John Leek Jr.

The Williams team jumped at the opportunity when Western Empire was placed on an Inglis Digital Sale last October, purchasing him for A$150,000 and bringing him back to their Karnup stable.


Western Empire immediately showed some of that old spark with a placing in the A$200,000 The Joey (1200m) in his resuming run at Ascot on April 20. His second-up appearance came in the Gr.3 Northam Stakes (1300m) on May 5, where he snapped his two-year win drought with a dominant victory by two and a half lengths.

Saturday’s Belmont Sprint brought more of the same. The six-year-old dropped a long way off the speed and was caught wide for a large part of the race, but rider William Pike brought him to the outside at the top of the Belmont straight and let him rip.

Western Empire showed a top-class turn of foot and rattled home from the back, drawing up alongside Searchin’ Roc’s. That rival refused to surrender, however, and the pair fought out a desperate battle to the finish with Western Empire winning by a nose. The third placegetter finished almost three lengths behind the first two.

“That run was full of merit,” Pike said. “I wasn’t sure he’d earned that price today, going up in weight and from a wide barrier. We were back and wide and had quite a lot to overcome, but he’s done it really well.”

From 23 starts, Western Empire has now recorded nine wins and six placings, earning more than A$1.76 million.

“He’s done well today,” Grant Williams said. “He obviously had a bit to do, he had a wide run, so it was super. He had to really stretch his neck out to get the win.

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

“The plan is to go to the Hyperion (Gr.3, 1600m) next in two weeks’ time, and then the Strickland (Gr.3, 2000m) another two weeks after that. 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. I think we’ve been pretty lucky to snag him, so we’re going to have to make it work for us.”

Western Empire, who was born at Haunui Farm and cared for on behalf of breeder Bob Peters, is one of 38 southern hemisphere-bred stakes winners for former Haunui shuttle stallion Iffraaj. That list also includes fellow Group One winners Turn Me Loose, Gingernuts, Jon Snow and Wyndspelle.

The dam of Western Empire is the Group Two-winning Jeune mare Western Jewel, who also has the Listed winner Western Temple among her five winners from seven foals to race. – NZ Racing Desk.


Race Result - Furphy - Belmont Sprint Gr3 1400m

Belmont Park Track: Good(4) Time: 1:22.66
Western Empire
- 6g Iffraaj (GB) x Western Jewel (AUS) (Jeune (GB))
Tnr: G & A Williams Rdr: W Pike 59
Inglis October (Early) Online Sale $150,000
Seller: John Leek (as agent)
Buyer: Yevrah Investments
Searchin' Roc's
- 5m Awesome Rock (AUS) x Still Searchin' (AUS) (Trade Fair (GB))
Tnr: J P Taylor Rdr: S Parnham 57
Magnificent Andy
- 5g Magnus (AUS) x Yaloginda (AUS) (Trade Fair (GB))
Tnr: S J Miller Rdr: B Parnham 59
Comfort Me
- 7g Playing God (AUS) x Southern Comfort (AUS) (Comfy (USA))
Tnr: Rhys Radford Rdr: Holly Watson 59
Ginger Baker
- 6g Gingerbread Man (AUS) x Spring Violet (AUS) (Encosta De Lago (AUS))
Tnr: D & B Pearce Rdr: Lucy Fiore 59
Red Can Man
- 7g Gingerbread Man (AUS) x Brocky's Ace (AUS) (Surtee (AUS))
Tnr: S J Wolfe Rdr: Joseph Azzopardi 59
Triple Missile
- 6g Smart Missile (AUS) x Triple Latte (USA) (Medaglia D'oro (USA))
Tnr: G & A Williams Rdr: S Mc Gruddy 59
Valour Road
- 8g Frost Giant (USA) x Melba Avenue (AUS) (Street Sense (USA))
Tnr: Simon Miller Rdr: Chris Parnham 59
Let's Galahvant
- 5g Galah (AUS) x Secret Crush (AUS) (So Secret (AUS))
Tnr: D & B Pearce Rdr: Natasha Faithfull 59
Mood Swings
- 7g War Chant (USA) x Scarlet Storm (AUS) (Commands (AUS))
Tnr: G W Dupre Rdr: Luke Campbell 59
Baby Paris
- 4m Playing God (AUS) x War In Paris (AUS) (War Chant (USA))
Tnr: C H Webster Rdr: T Turner 57
- 7g Maschino (AUS) x Comesitbesideme (AUS) (Mcflirt (NZ))
Tnr: L P Luciani Rdr: J Whiting 59
The Velvet Queen
- 5m Universal Ruler (AUS) x Doubleblack Velvet (AUS) (Show A Heart (AUS))
Tnr: D T McAuliffe Rdr: Jordan Turner 57
Karli's Karma
- 6m Deep Field (AUS) x Sravana (AUS) (Stratum (AUS))
Tnr: Summer Dickson Rdr: Jade Mc Naught 57
- 6g Gingerbread Man (AUS) x Dubi Dubi Do (AUS) (Dubai Destination (USA))
Tnr: C & M Gangemi Rdr: Jarrad Noske 59
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