By Ray Hickson
“She continues to improve”.
It’s an ominous comment from Godolphin trainer James Cummings that should raise concerns for Colette’s rivals in Saturday’s Group 3 $350,000 Bisley Workwear Sky High Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill.
The classy mare is already the shortest priced favourite at $1.60 with TAB for Coolmore Classic Day and as at Thursday barely a drop of the anticipated pre-race rain had fallen on the track.
Cummings said the Golden Eagle and Australian Oaks winner has shown in her two starts this autumn that she’s transitioned to the top echelon and while she’s a superior wet tracker she’s not only a wet tracker.
After a stunning first-up Apollo Stakes win on a soft 7 the four-year-old was narrowly beaten by Verry Elleegant in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes on a soft 5 over the Randwick mile.
“Her two runs this campaign in G1 weight-for-age company have confirmed her ability and class, and her narrow defeat in the Chipping Norton expelled the suggestion she is only a wet tracker,” Cummings said.
Colette runs second at Randwick on February 27
“The most satisfying aspect of her campaign to date is that she continues to improve in her training.”
In the spring Cummings deliberately kept Colette to a mile and below, and struck paydirt in the Golden Eagle on a heavy track, so the Sky High will be the first time since her Oaks win she’s seen a middle distance.
The Group 2 $200,000 Hyland Race Colours Ajax Stakes (1500m) shapes as a big race for the talented but a shade one-dimensional Criaderas to vault him into next month’s $3m The Star Doncaster.
Criaderas has just 50kg in the feature Randwick mile and is 56th in the latest order of entry – the Ajax offers the winner exemption from ballot and penalty for the Doncaster - so a win is essential to him making the final field without another run.
Nobody missed the four-year-old’s first-up second in the Liverpool City Cup (1300m) two weeks ago where he ran the meeting’s fastest last 600m of 33.07 (Punter’s Intelligence) as he charged from the back.
“His first-up run was outstanding,’’ Cummings said.
“He races other Doncaster aspirants, and we expect him to measure up in this preliminary final.”
The gelding has barrier one and was $2.60 favourite on Thursday. Such is the opinion of him out there he’s fourth favourite in the Doncaster at $15 despite being well down the order of entry.
Rachel King rides both Colette and Criaderas once again.
James Cummings on Arcaded (Magic Night): “Arcaded performed brilliantly in Melbourne in the lead-up to the Blue Diamond, where the inside draw proved detrimental to her chances.
“She is an efficient, compact, no fuss filly, who has trained on beautifully since arriving in Sydney.”
On Ingratiating (Pago Pago): “He’s probably the best-performed runner in the race and his outstanding second placing in the Blue Diamond was full of class and resolve.
“His trackwork this week has been full of enthusiasm.”