Stepping stone for Godolphin’s plans
GODOLPHIN'S James Cummings will get a better understanding of the depth of his stable's autumn carnival contenders at feature race meetings across two states on Saturday.
Boom three-year-old Kementari leads the stable charge at Warwick Farm in the Group 3 $150,000 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m).
At Caulfield, veteran Hartnell returns in the Group 1 $500,000 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) while there is plenty of interest in stablemate Plague Stone's Melbourne debut in the Group 3 $200,000 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m).
Kementari is resuming after a winless but impressive spring campaign highlighted by his unlucky second in the Caulfield Guineas.
The Cummings-trained three-year-old is the $3.40 favourite with TAB Fixed Odds after an eye-catching barrier trial at Warwick Farm last week.
"Under the conditions of the race, he's the best weighted horse in it," Cummings said of Kementari. "He's shown that he gets better as he gets deeper into his preparation, but I think he can run a really cheeky race."
Cummings also has Osorno lining up in the Listed $125,000 Lonhro Plate (1100m) and form stayer Beijing Board chasing a hat-trick of wins in the Davali Thoroughbreds Cup (2400m).
Hartnell is resuming after an indifferent spring campaign that began with a brilliant win in the Lawrence Stakes but then tapered off and ended with his distant 20th in Rekindling's Melbourne Cup.
The Caulfield track is likely to be quite firm, which isn't Hartnell's preferred racing surface, but Cummings still expects a bold first-up showing.
"He looks good and he's feeling well, I think he's in really good shape," Cummings said.
"What I like is that he is carrying good condition into the race. When he's got that bit of condition on him, I feel that he races very well.
"Although Craig (Williams) might have to make use of him from his wide gate, I think he can run really well."
Plague Stone has drawn barrier four for his return in the Prelude for colts but there is a real stable confidence about the colt's chances.
"He's a fascinating horse, you'd swear he was a five-year-old gelding the way he's so relaxed around the stable," Cummings said. "But when the gates open he switches straight on and wants to utilise his speed. He's retained plenty of residual fitness from his first run and he trialled nicely in Sydney last week.''
Godolphin is also represented by La Parva in the fillies Prelude division and Victoria Derby minor placegetter Astoria resumes in the Group 2 $200,000 Autumn Stakes (1400m).
"La Parva will have to step up a notch in this class, but she couldn't have been much more impressive at Ballarat and she's trained on nicely," Cummings said. "Astoria's more forward than I had him for his first-up run last preparation.''