Cummings’ Bullish Ahead Of Oaks Winner’s Return

James Cummings predicts VRC Oaks winner Zardozi to belie her early spring form over sprint trips and potentially give her rivals a fright when she resumes in the Group 1 Surround Stakes at Randwick.

The filly was beaten more than 12 lengths first-up in the Silver Shadow Stakes (1200m) in August and over 13 lengths at her next start in the Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) before coming into her own over longer journeys to capture the Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m), en route to a brilliant 2500-metre triumph in the Oaks.

Cummings says Zardozi has more speed in her legs this autumn, as evidenced by her two recent barrier trials in which he feels she has been “looking pretty sharp”.

“I’d say sharper than others may have expected her to be,” Cummings said.

“I was extremely impressed by the fillies in the Light Fingers (Stakes), they’ve got the run on her, whereas she arrives here first-up alongside horses like Tropical Squall and Roll On By, the other first-up horses in the race.

“But mile-and-a-half horses have a habit of running cheeky races first-up over seven furlongs, so it wouldn’t shock us completely if Zardozi was chiming in.”

There is a recent precedent for Zardozi in Dear Demi, who won the VRC Oaks in 2012 and returned to capture the Surround Stakes (1400m) the following autumn, although she did contest the Light Fingers Stakes (1200m) as a lead-up.

Zardozi will have the services of visiting English jockey Tom Marquand, who has three feature race rides for Godolphin on Saturday.

Marquand will also don the Royal Blue silks to partner Cascadian in the Group 1 Verry Elleegant Stakes (1600m) and Golden Mile in the Liverpool City Cup (1300m) with Cummings thrilled to have him on board.

“Tom is absolutely flying so there is absolutely no reason we shouldn’t be lining up to book Tom Marquand, given that we’re interested in having the best available on our horses,” he said.

“Tom is very good to work with, he has ridden for us in the past and we’re fortunate he was available to take the rides we’ve offered.

“The other piece of the puzzle is he’s happy to work in with us. He popped out and rode a little bit of work for us during the week (and) we threw him on in a few trials.”

Cascadian was unable to be tested first-up behind Fangirl in the Apollo Stakes (1400m) when racing in restricted room, a run Cummings said was more akin to a barrier trial.

He added that had ensured the nine-year-old went into Saturday on fresh legs, but conceded Cascadian had to lift to overcome odds-on favourite Fangirl.

Cummings is also happy with the condition of Golden Mile, admitting that he “got it wrong” first-up when the four-year-old tired late to finish last in the Expressway Stakes, the trainer cautioning punters not to judge the entire on that performance.

“He’s going a lot better than his form suggests,” Cummings said, while also floating the possibility of backing up Golden Mile in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) on Saturday week.

– RAS NewsWire

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