By Ray Hickson
Is Ranier the Godolphin dark horse for the 2020 TAB Everest?
Before you say that's a crazy suggestion bear in mind Godolphin has produced the past two winners of Scone’s Luskin Star Stakes, run on Saturday at Rosehill, and they both found themselves in the TAB Everest.
While trainer James Cummings couldn’t make such a bold prediction for the emerging Ranier he sees the race as a ‘launching pad’ for the four-year-old.
Ranier is out to hand Godolphin a hat-trick in the Listed $112,000 TAB Luskin Star Stakes (1300m) and emulate Osborne Bulls (2018) and Trekking (2019) who both subsequently finished third in the TAB Everest in their respective years.
“Trekking went on to win the Stradbroke and it’s also proved something of a base camp for the Everest with both horses finishing third in that race in their next campaigns,’’ Cummings said.
“Ranier is proving himself to be something of a dark horse.
“He’s raced well in strong races throughout his career and pulled out some very good performances in all of his wins.”
Ranier isn’t in the reckoning for an Everest berth just yet, though the same could probably be said for his fellow blue jackets in the past two years, but he is on the up after a barnstorming first-up win.
Under Hugh Bowman, who rides the $7 chance again on Saturday, the gelding was able to produce a huge finish from last to upset stablemate Phaistos, who has since won impressively, over 1400m at Randwick back on April 18.
There he ran the fastest last 600m of the race, 34.70 (Punter's Intelligence), by two lengths but Cummings is well aware he’ll need to step up again given he’s being asked to take on Listed company and drop 100m.
“His last effort was outstanding, there was plenty to admire about the way he found his way through the field and then to keep his momentum going over the last 50 metres between runners,’’ he said.
“He will no doubt need to be very tenacious here against better company again.”
Fellow Warwick Farm trainer Greg Hickman says talented three-year-old Eleven Eleven is poised to run the best race of his preparation so far now he’s finally drawn to race true to his preferred style.
The gelding, second favourite with TAB at $3.90, has drawn wide in both runs this time in and been forced to race back, he ran on to finish fifth in the Group 2 Arrowfield Stakes then ran seventh in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Guineas.
“He’s very well, I was disappointed in his last run but his work has been good through the week,’’ Hickman said.
“When you analyse it the run was okay but I was just disappointed we didn’t win. I want my horses to be competitive every time they go out.
Ranier wins at Randwick on April 18
“This time he won’t get pushed and pulled about, he’ll be where he wants to be. He’s normally an on pace horse and that will suit Rosehill.’’
Hickman is in two minds about what to do in the short term with Eleven Eleven if he wins the Luskin Star, a win will see his rating jump sharply and he’s not nominated for the Stradbroke.
In the new season he’ll give the horse a chance to earn a spot in the Golden Eagle and says there’s no shortage of options when the spring rolls around.
“He’s not ready to go to the paddock because he takes a few runs to come to hand,’’ he said.
“I’d like to come back and have look at races like the Golden Eagle, whether that might be a bit too hot, or there are those $1m races like The Gong you can aim for.’’