By Brad Gray
“He looks an absolute beast ahead of this first up run.”
You'd forgive James Cummings for wanting to gush solely about Kementari ahead of the Randwick Guineas but this comment was saved for three-year-old sprinter Viridine.
Viridine, who launches his autumn in Saturday’s G2 Challenge Stakes, continued his charge through the grades over the spring, which culminated in running fifth in the G1 Coolmore Stud Stakes behind Merchant Navy.
“If he can produce a strong run here, then I really think he’s capable of being competitive at Group One level in the Galaxy in a fortnight,” said Cummings, “But the most important thing is that Viridine gets his chance to lift his reputation by competing against older horses at weight-for-age.”
“He trialed reasonably well last month and we feel he’s come on again in his fitness and his gallop this week was one of the strongest he’s produced in his career so far.
“Saturday is going to be a really interesting test. Although he’s a three-year-old taking on some seasoned older sprinters, he’s certainly not going to lack for any strength when he comes up against them.”
One of those rivals of course being Redzel, who is rated $1.50 with TAB Fixed Odds in the opening market, while Viridine has already attracted support tightening from $9 into $7.50.
Cummings is equally bullish about Kementari ahead of his Group One assignment with the eye-catching colt having already won the Eskimo Prince Stakes and Hobartville Stakes this campaign.
“We’ve given him a similar preparation to the spring when he ran third up in the Caulfield Guineas where he was narrowly beaten,” Cummings explained.
“He couldn’t have been more impressive than he was in his first two runs this time in and we feel like he has continued to sail ahead since. The 1600m is going to be perfect for him and I feel as though he deserves to be one of the big chances.
“He’ll be one of the picks of the yard when he walks in. He’s in the best shape we can get him.”
The Hobartville Stakes has provided six of the past seven Randwick Guineas winners
Gongs and Plague Stone will wear the royal blue in the two-year-old features, the G2 Reisling Stakes and G2 Todman Stakes, both key Golden Slipper lead ups.
“Gongs looks like she’s improved a little since she finished third in the Silver Slipper a fortnight ago, but she really needed that run,” said Cummings.
“There’s no doubt that she’s got a massive margin to make up on a filly like Estijaab, but if some of those other horses have a little bit of an off day, then I know Gongs has improved enough to give them a bit of a scare.
“Plague Stone looks like he’s come through his lacklustre run in the Blue Diamond in good health. He had a poor post-race recovery, but I think a young horse like him can turn that around quickly.”
Cummings also said he expected Jorda to run well first up in the Listed Fireball Stakes, although has improvement to come, while Tally, who is training strongly, will likely need the run.
“The thing about (Jorda) is that she performed so well first up and was still able to deliver at the end of her preparation,” he said.