Like many trainers, Anthony Cummings has been priming a team for the opening day of The Championships at Randwick on Saturday. And, like many trainers, he has an eye on the weather.
VRC Derby placegetter and Rosehill Guineas runner-up Thunder Fantasy is Cummings’ best of a trio of runners in the Australian Derby, while Fontelina and Villa Verde will contest the T.J. Smith Stakes and Miss Interiors will run in the Sires’ Produce.
‘‘I’ll leave the Doncaster to someone else,’’ Cummings said.
‘‘We are going to the races with horses that are peaking at the right time and we are very happy with them.’’
The Doncaster draw wasn’t kind to Team Hawkes, so Messene will need to win from gate 18 if it is to extend its winning streak to eight.
‘‘He is the best we have had him and peaking on the right day,’’ co-trainer Michael Hawkes said. ‘‘We wanted a good draw but there is not much we can do about it.’’
Team Hawkes will have two runners; second-stringer Ninth Legion came up with barrier 12.
Thunder Fantasy has been placed twice at group1 level this campaign, including a third at 1600m in the Australian Guineas, but a wet track is a concern.
‘‘I’m really happy with the way he came through the Rosehill run but the track played against him a bit there,’’ Cummings said. ‘‘His run in the Victoria Derby shows he will run the trip but I would like a firmer track for him.
‘‘Surge Ahead also needs a firm track, but Best Case will handle the wet, as we saw in the Tulloch Stakes [where he was third behind Gallatin], and he is on the quick back-up and hasn’t done a thing wrong since Saturday.’’
Fontelina came up with gate three in the T.J. Smith, while three-year-old filly Villa Verde has 12 in a sprint where the speed has drawn in the outside gates.
Favourite Lankan Rupee got the prized rails draw and second pick Buffering has barrier two.
‘‘We got one good and one bad in the T.J. Smith,’’ Cummings said. ‘‘Looking at the draw I’m not that unhappy because there is a lot ofspeed from Snitzerland, Sweet Idea and Steps In Time on the outside. The favourite probably didn’t draw the best in one because he will have to kick up and hold his position.’’
Cummings thinks Miss Interiors can spring a surprise in the Sires’, even though she has been unplaced at both her runs. ‘‘We came into this race with Drago last year at a big price and he ran fourth, and I think this filly can do something similar,’’ Cummings said. ‘‘The main thing for her is to get the track to dry out.’’
Another which will be missing if the track is wet on Saturday is Zoustar after he had a workout in front of connections on Tuesday.
‘‘The track was heavy and he didn’t like it. He just can’t let go on that sort of surface,’’ trainer Chris Waller said. ‘‘It would have to be on the better side of slow for us to run him and even then the owners could decide to wait for another day,and I wouldn’t argue.’’