By Ray Hickson
It’s the biggest challenge in racing but in the end it was an opportunity too good for Godolphin to pass up.
While some will say beating Winx, particularly in the race named in her honour, would be akin to killing Bambi, Kementari’s trainer James Cummings is taking a ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it’ attitude into the mouth-watering clash that racing fans have wanted to see.
It’s almost like the day the great Sunline, at seven, took on the rising star four-year-old Lonhro.
“He’s some sporting chance. (Winx) is a champion and hopefully is it worth a cheer at some stage half way up the straight,’’ Cummings said on Sky Sports Radio.
“We treat all our opposition with respect and we don’t feel at all it’s just a match race.
“Having said that I have the greatest admiration for the mare. He’s prepared to run as well as he can at seven furlongs.’’
Cummings took most by surprise when he placed Kementari in the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday as a late entry, given it was originally planned to head to the Memsie Stakes second-up, but said he’s more than comfortable with the decision.
The entire resumed with an eye-catching narrow defeat to Pierata in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) on August 4.
“He’s just done so well since the Missile. We discussed the possibility this might happen but we didn’t want any fanfare,’’ Cummings said on Sky Sports Radio.
“He worked in such good fashion (Tuesday) morning I thought it was too dangerous going four weeks into the Memsie.’’
Cummings feels Kementari has improved significantly in fitness since that first-up run, where Punters Intel showed he ran his last 600m in 32.78 and a final 200m in 11.05, and said that usually equated to two to three lengths improvement.
The significance of a Group 1 win over the world’s best racehorse isn’t lost on the Godolphin team and taking on Winx when she’s first-up on a good track would seem his only shot.
That’s especially when you consider how well Winx appears to have come back as a seven-year-old.
Kementari flashes late first-up in the Missile Stakes at Randwick on August 4
Kementari has met Winx once, finishing a close third behind her and Happy Clapper in the Group 1 George Ryder Stakes in the autumn when both horses were well into their preparations.
It’s sure to be a tactical battle on Saturday with Winx drawn five and Kementari two gates to her outside in seven in the 11 horse field that also includes Group 1 winners Ace High, Unforgotten and D'Argento.
“I’m sure he’s going to run a very good race,’’ Cummings said.
“He’s got a very rare turn of foot and given we are confident he has gone ahead this race fits in well.
“It has to be said he has huge stallion appeal. The appeal of winning this race would be enormous to his value.’’
TAB opened Winx at $1.12 when the field was finalised and Kementari ($7) is the only other under double figure odds.
As far as the future goes, Cummings said the Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m) in Melbourne is still on the radar as is tackling the $13 million The Everest (1200m) in October if one of the remaining slots is secured.