Godolphin trainer James Cummings has targeted Friday’s 1500-metre group 3 Australian Bloodstock Cameron Handicap with his talented import Best of Days, because the winner gains automatic inclusion in the group 1 Epsom Handicap at Randwick.
The former European entire, won two of his eight starts overseas before he joined the Cummings stable earlier this year.
After two barrier trials at Randwick in July, Best of Days was well backed in his first Australian start over 1400 metres at Randwick on August 18. He walked out of the barrier and after being third last into the straight, ran into dead ends before eventually seeing daylight and running on to be three lengths from the winner.
In his only other start in this country on September 1 at Randwick, he was again tardy at the start but overpowered the leaders to win impressively.
Glyn Schofield rides Best of Days for the first time on Friday and the five-year-old is well placed on the limit weight and has barrier two.
Cummings was full of praise for Best of Days when contacted on Friday.
“He is a smart horse and his two Sydney runs have been outstanding,” he said. “The horse tends to dwell at the start of his races and he settled near last in both runs here.
“In Europe he raced in 2400-metre races in his last two starts over there. I have kept him nice and fresh and he is thriving. Best of Days has the talent to be competitive in the group-1 Epsom and I want to run him in that race.
“It will probably be a capacity field and Best of Days’ rating may not be high enough to get into the field at this stage. However, with the Cameron winner exempt from ballot for the Epsom, we had to have a crack at the Newcastle race. He will love the big track up there and he has a lovely weight.”
The Cameron Handicap is a cracking race and ironically a horse formerly trained by Cummings is the one to beat.
Prized Icon trained by Kris Lees, won the 2016 Group 1 Victorian Derby when trained by Cummings.
He has had two runs from a spell and has the rails barrier and is nicely weighted for a group-1 winner. Lees is confident that Prized Icon will run a bold race.
“Prized Icon is at his top now after two runs and this is a nice race for him, albeit a very strong race. He should settle better than midfield from the rails barrier and he has worked really well since his last start,” Lees said on Wednesday.
Cummings will saddle up well-fancied runners in two of the other group-3 events.
He won the 2016 Tibbie Stakes with the West Australian mare Spirit Bird and the 2017 Spring Stakes with Astoria.
On Friday, Cummings’ mare Savatiano is expected to be favourite in the Tibbie Stakes. She overcame a wide barrier to win the listed Mona Lisa first up on Wyong Cup Day two weeks ago.
Savatiano’s record speaks for itself with five wins and four seconds from 12 starts.
Chris Waller’s imported stayer Carzoff can complete the Wyong /Newcastle Cup double on Friday.
He mowed the opposition down from back in the field at Wyong two weeks ago and in the stronger field at Newcastle the six-year-old carries the same weight.
Darren Weir has two runners, Mongolian Wolf and Grand Dreamer, in the Newcastle Cup, in which there are many chances.
Cummings has two three-year-olds, Aramayo and Cloak, in the Spring Stakes. Aramayo will be hard to beat after finishing on the placegetters heels in the group-3 Ming Dynasty last start.