Trekking on track to bounce back in big way
HAVING had a good look at the new Eagle Farm, James Cummings is a firm believer horses can improve sharply off a run on the surface and after watching Trekking work on the course proper on Tuesday, he thinks it's done the trick.
The Stradbroke field received a little shake up on Tuesday with news Oregon's Day, Manuel and Material Man would not accept, ensuring third favourite Tyzone (20th in order) gets a start. Irithea (19th) and I'm A Rippa (21st) also go into the field.
Cummings could have as many as four Stradbroke runners. He is leaning towards backing up Viridine from Saturday to join Trekking, Home Of The Brave and Encryption in the $1.5m sprint.
Peter Snowden flagged the Eagle Farm theory as a reason for Creator's flop in the BRC Sires last month, suggesting he had spoken to a number of trainers who believe some horses can take a run to get used to the surface.
Cummings expects Trekking to be far superior this weekend as a result of having been on it.
"It was important for him to get on that grass and feel good about it," he said.
"We wanted him to see the track here before the Stradbroke under race conditions.
"He just demonstrated that while he ran well (in the Kingsford Smith Cup), he never fully let go on the track and was still coming to grips with it. I was pleased with what I saw with him (Tuesday) morning, because he really let down in the gallop.
"Dropping back from the weight-for-age scale will be perfect in the handicaps and Kerrin McEvoy gets his chance to win another Group 1 for Godolphin."
Cummings said Encryption's work with stablemate Isaurian was similar to leading into the Oakleigh Plate, where he produced a career-best run.
"He's entitled to be among the chances if he produces his best," he said.
The trainer conceded Home Of The Brave has not had the ideal preparation, having missed the Kingsford Smith Cup because of a "little fever" but all the signs since have been good.
"He trialled like a horse that wasn't feeling any effects of the passing virus he had," he said. "The horse is in a really good frame of mind. He's had a good lung burner in the barrier trial."
Viridine is set to meet his Moreton Cup conqueror Pretty In Pink slightly better at the weights, if the stable elects to run.
"We're still discussing the merits of Viridine backing up from the Moreton Cup, (but) if that's the form race going into the Stradbroke, I think we could be mad going into a very open Stradbroke to leave him out of the equation," he said.