By Brad Gray
Can Sanctioned turn the tables on Ace High in the $500,000 Group One Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes out to 2000m? Godolphin trainer James Cummings is aware of the obvious question mark.
The three-year-old Teofilo colt has always given the impression that he’d relish getting out over ground with the stable pegging him a Derby type before he even started his spring campaign. However, after looming to win the Gloaming Stakes, which has provided five of the past seven winners of the Spring Champion, he was simply outstayed by Ace High.
“Of course, if he’d gone past Gold Standard or Ace High who have beaten him in his last two, then there would have been no concerns about the distance,” said Cummings, “But he bumped into two colts who are really flying, so I didn’t walk away too disappointed from those races.”
“He’s just going ahead in his own time and if he happens to produce his best performance here, fourth up and in a Group One I’d be delighted.
“I think he has the chance to dispel all of those queries. In five starts to date he’s not shirked the task once. He’s finished in the placings every time.”
Astoria, meanwhile, proved no match for Ace High and Sanctioned in the Gloaming Stakes, running fifth beaten near seven lengths. However, Cummings believes the quick turnaround from his Spring Stakes win at Newcastle counted against him.
“Astoria switched off last start on the seven-day back up after having an easy week leading into the Gloaming,” Cummings said.
“He has responded to a better preparation for this race and appears to have gone to another level with the re-application of a set of winkers to keep him focused. His energy levels are right back up and he’s got a better opportunity of getting back to his best.”
Godolphin also look to have a strong hand in the $300,000 Group Two Polytrack Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) courtesy of the unbeaten Viridine, who is only now receiving overdue accolades, and last start winner Beau Geste.
“(Viridine) continues to impress me. He’s had an extra week to get over his strong first up win where he wanted to overdo it a bit in the Heritage Stakes,” Cummings said.
“The colt had shown dramatic improvement in the final month before his first up run, to such an extent that he was able to win so impressively when he was a little big in condition.
“Since his last win he’s gone ahead again. The only thing I could be a bit doubtful of is that he worked too well in the lead up to this race.”
Beau Geste is a colt that Cummings has always had a good opinion of and he delivered on that at Rosehill at his latest outing.
“He’s been a slow-maturing sprinting type who seems to be coming into his own now. He’s filling out the deeper we get into the spring and I feel he’s going ahead enough to be competitive,” Cummings revealed.