By Ray Hickson
Trainer James Cummings is happy enough to have the focus on a boom rival when promising colt Andermatt makes his long awaited return at Rosehill on Saturday.
He hasn’t quite reached forgotten horse stage but Andermatt would command a lot more attention in the Chandon Handicap (1100m) if it wasn’t for the presence of the unbeaten Vowmaster.
This is a colt who was a brilliant winner on debut at Kembla Grange then closed in late on Anders on a heavy track at Rosehill back in May but has been given the slow and steady approach from Cummings since.
“He’s had some immaturity issues since his very promising placing behind Anders last year,’’ Cummings said.
“We got close to getting him up in spring but we decided we weren’t quite happy with him.
“Now, touch wood, things have gone along beautifully in the lead up to a fresh up run and I’d like to think he could hit the ground running.’’
Andermatt trialled back in November then resurfaced for two trials in the past month including a comfortable win over stablemate Emanate at Hawkesbury on February 10.
The Snitzel colt, $7.50 with TAB on Friday, takes on the unbeaten Chris Waller-trained Vowmaster and if that three-year-old takes his place then Cummings will happily take the underdog status as well as the measuring stick a clash provides.
“In the absence of bumping into a star in the field I thought he’d be just about the testing material but is seems we are bumping into a very promising horse,’’ Cummings said.
“In a way it’s not such a bad thing to see exactly where we are at. Maybe he will blow out a few cobwebs but we’ve taken our time and have him rather forward.”
Rachel King rides the colt at 52kg and while he holds a nomination for the Group 2 $1m Arrowfield Sprint (1200m) at The Star Championships the longer than planned break has Cummings taking a wait and see approach for now.
“He has a big pedigree so it’s up to him just how far he goes but in the meantime you can read between the lines from where he is kicking off that we have our feet on the ground,’’ he said.
The scratching of early favourite Four Moves Ahead from the Group 2 $250,000 Iron Jack Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) has opened up the two-year-old race for the Godolphin pair of Paulele and Zethus.
The former, unbeaten in two starts, assumed $3.60 TAB favouritism on Friday while the latter, impressive winner of the Canonbury Stakes three weeks ago, sat at $7. They are $26 and $34 respectively in the all-in Golden Slipper market.
Cummings said it’s hard to deny that Zethus has the runs on the board with recent racing on a wet track likely to be a huge advantage.
Andermatt wins a trial at Hawkesbury on February 10
“He has plenty of strength about him, there aren’t too many stronger two-year-olds racing in Sydney,’’ he said.
“He has a great mind for it, maybe he wants further than 1100m but how testing is the ground going to be. It’s going to be hard work for those young horses and a strong horse could be the type that prevails.”
Paulele hasn’t seen a wet track in his wins at Moonee Valley and Randwick in the early summer but Cummings said on his side is the fact he was winning on sheer ability and appears to have matured.
“He’s two out of two yet he did a few things wrong in getting there,’’ he said.
“He has the propensity to really improve from last year, it’ll be interesting to see what he’s ready to show but if he is capable of winning this first-up he is a very good horse.”