Godolphin trainer James Cummings won’t hear of Cascadian’s credibility being questioned ahead of the import’s next start in Saturday’s $1 million The Gong (1600m) at Kembla on Saturday.
When discussing his Saturday runners – I put to the trainer that Cascadian’s inability to register more than two wins from 15 since arriving in Australia has him ‘knocking on the door to join Kementari and Avilius as punting undesirables with flashy looks’.
“What’s he done wrong this prep,” Cummings said. “They can’t all win all the time at the top level.
“We haven’t missed him – (PB) Lawrence (Stakes), Memsie (Stakes), (Sir) Rupert Clarke (Stakes), Toorak (Handicap), Cantala (Stakes).
“Which one should he have won?
“He chased solidly first-up in the Lawrence behind a perfectly suited stablemate, ran on strongly in the Memsie out wide, too short, beaten two and a bit lengths behind Group 1 winners during the spring.
“Gone to the line untested in the Rupert Clarke.
“Some doubted him because of his run in the Toorak but he was four wide from about the half-mile, off balance on the turn – that’s what happens.
“Once he got through the emergencies he came out of barrier 14 of 16 in the Cantala.
“The horse he beat in the race (Rock) had barrier two, our horse charged home out wide, he’s gone close and Damien Oliver comes in and says ‘nothing took me into the race’ and he got beaten a half-neck.
“Big effort. That’s why I’ll defend him.”
Oh so close for Cascadian in the Group 1 Cantala Stakes. Photo: Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Cummings says the Cantala Stakes form is “the right form” for The Gong and Cascadian will be ridden on Saturday by Nash Rawiller.
“We wouldn’t have him here unless we are expecting another good performance,” he said.
Another horse heading to The Gong with Group 1 form is the stablemates Asiago and Best Of Days.
Asiago is on the back-up after last Saturday contesting the $1 million The Hunter where she worked home strongly while Best Of Days also comes out of the Cantala Stakes, just like Cascadian.
“Asiago let down beautifully in The Hunter and the mile will allow her to race more comfortably,” he said
“The horse has had two runs this preparation where she has never got out and that has left her with plenty of stored energy to come here at the top of her game this deep into a campaign.
“I’m pleased with the horse and how she came through last Saturday and I’m delighted with the way she’s been racing.
“This could be an extremely rewarding effort from her if she is capable of mixing with these horses at 1600m.
Asiago. Photo: Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
“Best Of Days was excellent first-up so much so there was lots of interest in the horse when produced second-up in the Moonga (Plate) and if I had my time over again I wouldn’t have run him on the wet track.
“Perhaps it takes him a bit of time to get over a run like that.
He sort of just chased in the Cantala but he didn’t get beaten nine lengths, he got beaten less than four, he’s improved and he’s worthy of his chance here.
“This day last year he was enormous in the Railway. If he runs to his pattern, expect something.”
Best Of Days. Photo: Getty Images.Source:Getty Images
Cummings said in just two short years The Gong has this year produced a classy field highlighted by the fact that Asiago rose four benchmark ratings points for her third placing in The Hunter but she still remains on the limit weight of 52kg on Saturday.
“This is a genuine Group One standard race,” he said. “This is as better race that the Stradbroke was, tell me it’s not?
“The ratings tell you. The top-rated horse is 110 (benchmark) rater and a horse on the minimum is at 98, technically it would be 94 if it was a male.”
Cascadian is the shortest runner of the Godolphin trio in the betting markets at $11 ahead of Asiago at $13 with Best Of Days a $35 chance.
Kathy O’Hara rides Asiago while Golden Eagle-winning jockey Koby Jennings teams up with Best Of Days.
Originally published asDon’t bag the horse: Trainer defends The Gong runner
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