By Brad Gray
The giant shadow of Winx looms over Saturday’s $1m Group One The Agency George Ryder Stakes (1500m), but that won’t stop James Cummings from sending his star colt Kementari into battle even if the Rosehill Gardens track comes up heavy.
“We have our feet firmly on the ground when it comes to appreciating how far behind Winx he is when it comes to achievement and world rankings, but nevertheless he is a rising star,” Cummings said.
“He’ll go to races prepared to run well, but we have no pressure on the horse to beat Winx.
“It’s simply the run he needs to get to the Doncaster and we’ll be more than proud if he could just race up to Winx and make things interesting. We’re happy to saddle him up.”
Kementari has swept all before him this autumn, stringing together a picket fence of his own, including a dominant last start victory in the Group One Randwick Guineas.
“We couldn’t be happier with the way he’s come out of the Randwick Guineas,” said Cummings.
“He galloped beautifully on Tuesday morning and just sailed to the line under his own steam.
“We expect our colt to run well on the weekend, and like everybody else, we look forward to seeing Winx step out as well. Even if this isn’t as big a race as the Slipper, I’m sure it will attract nearly as much attention.
“It’s an exciting weekend for us, seeing our big star Kementari unveiled again.”
— Godolphin (@godolphin) March 20, 2018
Meanwhile, Cummings revealed that Viridine “monstered the line” in his work this week which has the Godolphin camp bullish about his chances in the $700,000 PFD Food Services Group One Galaxy (1100m).
The win would be all the more sweeter for the global racing operation given Viridine’s sire Poet’s Vice this week suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 11 while standing at Darley’s Dalham Hall Stud in the UK.
“Viridine has really improved off his first-up run in the Challenge Stakes. To my eye he’s tightened up.” We were all really impressed with his run, but we were even more impressed with him on Tuesday morning when he monstered the line in a track gallop,” gushed Cummings.
“If he’s as ready as we feel he is, then he’s ready to run a very big race here. A result here would be just as exciting as seeing Kementari run in the George Ryder.
“If we have Viridine spot on for the weekend as we think we have, I think he’s going to be extremely competitive in a high-class race.”
Viridine's fast-finishing fourth in the Challenge Stakes
The stable also have a strong hand in the $125,000 Listed Chandon S Darby Munro Stakes (1200m) with a three-pronged attack led by unbeaten colt Isaurian, who defeated older horses at Warwick Farm first up.
“The colt has a lot of sharpness about him and he demonstrated that again in a nice piece of work at Osborne Park,” said Cummings.
“This race looks a nice stepping stone for him, but it’s still going to be a stern test of how much potential is under the hood.”
Manicure will also take her place in the race having missed the spring, while Cummings believes Beau Geste will be suited by what could be a testing track come Saturday with plenty of rain forecasted.
“It’s certainly going to be a pretty stern test for (Manicure) against the boys and at 1200m. She’s been training really strongly though and it’ll be interesting to see what level she’s returned at,” he said.
“(Beau Geste) looks to be the sort of colt who’s looking for 1400m second up, the conditions here look like suiting him. He’s a very classy colt”
Gongs, who is second emergency in the Golden Slipper, will now head to the G2 Percy Sykes Stakes (1200m) on Day 2 of The Championships.
Kementari is rated a $7.50 chance to topple Winx in the George Ryder Stakes with TAB Fixed Odds, while Viridine is $5.50 in The Galaxy.