By Ray Hickson
James Cummings makes a compelling case for punters to be forgiving of Plague Stone when he returns at Randwick on Saturday.
The colt has been something of a barrier trial champion with four wins from as many trials but he’s recorded just the two placings in his four race starts.
However, Cummings points to those two placings – seconds to Secret Lady and Written By - as evidence the youngster has the talent to be winning better races than Saturday’s Rosebud Prelude (1000m).
“In fairness to the horse his two first-up runs have been full of promise,’’ Cummings said.
“He was unlucky not to get a cushy run on debut and did things wrong.
“Then he was four wide in running second to Written By, it was a pretty good run, a Blue Diamond winner and Golden Slipper placegetter.’’
Easy work for Plague Stone winning his latest trial at Warwick Farm on July 6
Plague Stone was last seen on race day running fifth, after racing three wide throughout, in the Todman Stakes back in March.
On the back of his two barrier trial wins in the past five weeks he’s the $2.15 favourite with TAB to announce himself as a contender for some of the better spring three-year-old races.
Cummings said he’s done all he can to have Plague Stone ready to win, now it’s up to the horse.
“He’s come back having had a good grounding with a really nice preliminary and he’ll get the opportunity to run well first-up again,’’ he said.
“He’s got to give up to 5kg away under handicap conditions, but it is nicely positioned three weeks out from the early spring races. He’s proved he’s not far off those targets with a performance like what he produced first-up last preparation.
“I’d be walking off the racecourse as frustrated as anyone when you have a horse going well and they don’t come away with a ‘W’.
“The facts are I can only concentrate on getting the horse ready to run well and he’s prepared to do that again.’’
Plague Stone is nominated for the $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill in September but Cummings isn’t entertaining any talk of such races until the colt delivers.
James Cummings’ comments on the other Godolphin runners at Randwick:
Gaulois (Race 4, $4.80 TAB): “He keeps running well with big weights, he remains at the mile that he’s shown a liking for but takes on older horses with the drop in weights which is nice for him.
“It looks like unfolding nicely for him. He enjoyed a strong speed at Moonee Valley three starts ago and he faced that stern breeze at Flemington last time a long way out.”
Wander (Race 5, $11): “I thought at this time of the year we might find something out about him against tougher opposition after a severely blocked run last time. Out to 1200m at Randwick we’ll get the opportunity to learn something about him.’’
Bandipur (Race 8, $2.60): “He looks a million dollars. He’s destined to get a much more energy conserving run than he was afforded last time off a wide gate. He’s trained on well enough to be competitive in this sort of race.
“The one thing about him is I think he’s yet to prove a very good weight carrier. But with 58kg last time he was only beaten a length and he was off the track the whole way.’’
Sanctioned (Race 9, $10): “He’s going well this prep. Whether first-up at 1400m he’s going to feel the pinch if they go along at a good gallop. He’ll improve as the preparation will unfold. I think with two nice trials under his belt he’s fit enough to show himself in a good light.’’
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s star colt Kementari will take his place in a star studded 900m barrier trial at Rosehill on Monday morning in a gallop punters will have to watch multiple times to take in.
The rising four-year-old’s opponents will include Winx, Chautauqua in an all-important official trial that will determine his future, and Ace High to name a few.