By Ray Hickson
Trainer James Cummings makes no secret of how keen he is on Godolphin’s leading Australian Oaks hopeful Colette ahead of the race that he hopes will confirm the filly’s Oaks prospects at Randwick on Saturday.
The Group 2 $200,000 TAB Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) might be considered the ‘low road’ into the fillies classic but it has produced a couple recent Oaks winners – the likes of Royal Descent (2013) and Rena’s Lady (2007) – and Cummings has had his eye squarely on this path with Colette.
Cummings has three fillies – the others being Amitto and Maia Nebula – out to press their Oaks claims on Saturday but it’s clear which one has his attention.
“The Group 1 races are obviously important but, for a couple of reasons, I’m really looking forward to this race,’’ he said.
“I have been so taken by Colette. You must believe in what you’ve seen and her victories at Kembla and Newcastle have been most impressive.
“This is an excellent opportunity for all three of our fillies to gain some Black Type.”
Colette announced herself as a filly of some potential when she broke her maiden status is a Class 1 over 1885m at Newcastle back on February 8.
Colette wins at Kembla Grange on March 21
She didn’t resurface until March 21 when Cummings dropped her to a mile at Kembla and she again proved superior – the Punter’s Intelligence sectional data shows her last 600m of 34.16 was about five lengths quicker than her opposition as she ran out a two length winner.
She’s the $2.40 Adrian Knox favourite with TAB and sits on the fourth line at $7 in Saturday week's Australian Oaks prior to proving herself at stakes level.
“We have treated her with kid gloves until now, so the next 10 days will be a test of her fortitude,” Cummings said.
Amitto and Maia Nebula are also progressive fillies but have escaped any kind of boom in winning their recent assignments.
Cummings said Amitto, out of former smart mare Anamato, a last start Class 1 winner over 1600m at Newcastle, should handle the 2000m while Maia Nebula, who won a 2000m Hawkesbury maiden before chasing Colette home when back in distance, has shown staying promise.
They are $21 and $41 respectively with TAB.
“Amitto is out of a very good race mare in Anamato, who will need to instil every ounce of stamina into this light filly for her to see out 2000m,’’ he said.
“Maia Nebula relished racing over further two runs ago, so I’m very happy for her to be back over this trip.
“She’s got a job ahead of her to mix it with this class, but the placegetters will all need to prove their staying prowess in the end.”
The last Adrian Knox winner to place in the Oaks was Bjorn Baker's Candelara who ran third behind Gust Of Wind and Winx back in 2015.