By Ray Hickson
Thanks to the leap year it’ll be one day short of exactly a year since Pohutukawa’s last win when she tackles Saturday’s Group 1 $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill and that’s something trainer James Cummings says she has in her favour when it comes to her chances.
It might sound odd but Cummings has a point.
Pohutukawa has been beaten in 10 starts, but placed in five of them, since she won the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) and as a result has a lower rating than she might have earned had she not been beaten a nose in the Group 1 Tatt’s Tiara.
“On one hand she hasn’t won for 12 months, but on the other it means she is well weighted in this race,’’ Cummings said.
“She’s also gone close in a G1 during that time (Tatts Tiara) and ran well enough in the Empire Rose in Melbourne.
“I could certainly make a case for her on the strength of those performances.”
While the Godolphin mare, $5.50 with TAB on Wednesday, hasn’t won on a good track in 10 attempts even if the Rosehill surface improves into that range she has proven that she’s not just a wet tracker.
The Coolmore will be a chance for Pohutukawa to turn the tables on Dawn Dawn and Sweet Idea for her closing third behind those two mares on a good track at Randwick two weeks ago where she meets them 2kg and 1.5kg better respectively.
Pohutukawa easily posted the fastest last 600m of that 1400m race, running 34.26, and was the only horse to break 12 seconds (11.95) for her last 200m (Punter's Intelligence).
“Her two runs this time in have been solid,’’ Cummings said.
“Last start she surged home in the Guy Walter in what was a very encouraging run.”
It’s D-Day for talented import Cascadian’s prospects of securing a start in the Star Doncaster Mile in the Group 2 $200,000 Hyland Race Colours Ajax Stakes (1500m).
Of course Cascadian was involved in the bumping duel with Imaging in the Liverpool City Cup (1300m), that cost Glen Boss time on the sidelines, so to be beaten 2.7 lengths by Quackerjack was probably a reasonable effort.
The pair are $5 equal favourites in the Ajax with TAB and the win and you’re in race is important for Cascadian who has just 52.5kg in the Doncaster.
“This will be a vital run for him to put his Doncaster credentials on the line,’’ Cummings saod.
“The tectonic plates are moving.”
Pohutukawa runs third at Randwick on February 29
It seems Cummings is expecting a more than forward showing from Soothing in the Group 3 $160,000 Canadian Club Maurice McCarten Stakes (1100m) where she’s on the $5.50 line with TAB on Wednesday.
The mare boasts a strong first-up record of three wins from five attempts, though she did run last when resuming last preparation in Melbourne, and Cummings has sent her around in two Flemington jump outs in the past month.
“She has a wonderful first-up record and 1,100m is right in her hitting zone,” he said.
“She’s won at 1100m here and this looks a most suitable race to tee off in.”