By Ray Hickson
Everything to gain and nothing to lose is how trainer Anthony Cummings is approaching his decision to pit promising gelding Vegadaze against classy mare Alizee at Rosehill on Saturday.
If Alizee, trained by his son James Cummings, is too good in the Group 2 $200,000 Missile Stakes (1200m) then it’s a result everyone expects.
But if Vegadaze, who has stretched The Autumn Sun in his short career so far, can topple the mare the elder Cummings says all spring targets are on the table.
“If he was to win on Saturday and got the attention of a slot holder in the Everest we wouldn’t say no to that,’’ Cummings said.
“But he has to make that statement first.’’
The $7.5m The Golden Eagle (1500m) run on November 2 at Rosehill is high on Cummings’ agenda for Vegadaze, given he is a four-year-old, and if those Everest dreams are just that then they could quickly become reality.
Especially considering Cummings thinks he can beat Alizee, who is an $11 chance in TAB’s Everest market.
“You always go out there trying to work out how to (beat them),’’ he said.
“She has to be going as well as she looks to beat our horse I’d think.
“Even if we sat second she’s going to be at the back of the field, most likely, and then it’ll be a drag race from the top of the straight.
“It’s a good race but we’re on our way to spring and that’s what it’s about.’’
TAB markets disagree with Cummings as Vegadaze was third favourite at $6.50 in the five horse field with Alizee dominant at $1.55 on Thursday.
Vegadaze won his first three starts, rising quickly through the grades, earlier this year before running second to The Autumn Sun in the Hobartville Stakes and fifth in the Group 1 Randwick Guineas over a mile.
Cummings said he’s rapt with how Vegadaze has come up and his eye-catching fourth in Redzel’s trial at Gosford on Monday says he’s in for a good campaign.
As for how the Missile could play out, Cummings is leaving that squarely in the hands of jockey Tommy Berry.
“In some respects drawing the outside makes it simpler,’’ Cummings said.
“He has good gate speed but I’ll leave it to Tommy how it works out.
“I thought he was impressive off the speed in the trial but this race, how do you work it out, I’ll make it Tommy’s headache not mine. But the horse is there to run well whichever way he goes.
Vegadaze runs fourth in his Gosford trial on Monday
“His first trial was good, the second trial was better and he came out of it in really good shape. He’s excelled every time he’s gone to the races and I don’t think that will be any different.’’
Cummings originally had both Mizzy and Baller nominated for the Missile but has elected to hold both back until later this month.
Mizzy will run in the Group 3 Toy Show (1100m) on August 24 while Baller is likely to contest the Group 3 Show County (1200m) on the same day if he makes the final field.
“Mizzy trialled well against Alizee but I thought in the trial she lost a bit of intensity in the last 60m,’’ Cummings said.
“While there are plenty of reasons to go to the races with her she’s better off to wait and have a trial next week and go to the Toy Show.’’
Meanwhile, Cummings said last year’s Villiers Stakes winner Sky Boy is doing well in his recovery from injury and expects the five-year-old to be back in the stable in November with a view to resuming in the autumn.