By Ray Hickson
Trainer Anthony Cummings says his star filly Libertini is in the right shape to tackle a heavy track first-up at Randwick on Saturday, starting an autumn preparation he has very high hopes for.
Libertini sparked Everest talk after her devastating Silver Shadow win to kick off her spring so all eyes will be on what she can do in the autumn equivalent, the Group 2 $200,000 TAB Light Fingers Stakes (1200m).
Cummings said although he didn’t plan for a heavy track first-up when Libertini came back into the stable she’s carrying a high level of fitness into the race.
“I think she is further forward with the trials and the gallops. She’s in a really good place,’’ he said.
“When we first started we were in the middle of a drought so it wasn’t what we expected but she is ready for whatever comes.
“We had to make sure she gets there in the right shape and we couldn’t happier with where she is. I’ll get excited at the furlong but until then it’s the nerves waiting for it to happen.’’
Libertini is one of a number of prime rides for jockey Tommy Berry and Cummings said he’s far from fazed by the filly drawing the outside barrier, in fact he prefers it.
“I was pleased because it gives Tommy room to move and not get dictated to,’’ he said.
Plenty is expected of Libertini heading towards The Championships where Cummings has nominated her for the Group 1 $2.5m TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) and Group 2 $1m Arrowfield Sprint (1200m).
She was a clear TAB favourite at $2.60 in the Light Fingers on Thursday, her first start since running third behind Exceedance in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes at Flemington.
When asked where he thinks Libertini could be at the end of the carnival Cummings allowed himself to dream a bit but he’s also bullish about the chance of the dream becoming reality.
“In a perfect world she has won a couple of Group 1s and established herself as the best three-year-old filly,’’ he said.
“That’s the wish list isn’t it. And a couple could be four.’’
A wide barrier also faces Group 2 placed gelding Vegadaze in the Schweppes Handicap (1300m) but Cummings said a drop in class will allow him to assess how the horse is going.
Vegadaze had his first start since an aborted spring campaign in the Group 2 Expressway Stakes and was beaten 2.7 lengths into sixth place behind Standout and Alizee.
Libertini's Silver Shadow win at Randwick in August
“He’s in good shape, his run the other day was really good in that grade and he’s coming back to benchmark grade,’’ Cummings said.
“It probably posed more questions than answered but beaten a couple of lengths by those horses is no disgrace.
“He was never really comfortable in the run and getting dictated to by other horses and didn’t like that much.’’
Apprentice Jean Van Overmeire takes 1.5kg off Vegadaze’s 60.5kg impost and the four-year-old was the $3.40 favourite on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Group 1 winner Prince Fawaz is all set to make his return in Saturday week’s Group 2 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill after pleasing Cummings in both his trials this time in.