You only have to watch James Cummings when he’s talking to understand that a lot of thought goes into what he says, so what he does say is very considered.
That is why it’s noteworthy what Godolphin’s head trainer is saying about star colt Anamoe going into the Group 1 $4m Longines Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on Saturday.
Cummings is happy enough to make a statement when it’s warranted but there’s something unusually bullish about his assessment of Anamoe.
“He’s an alpha male, he absolutely knows he’s the best horse on this farm,” he said.
“The deeper into his preparation he’s got the more focused and professional he’s become, that’s what you want to see in a horse. One who can perform on grand final day and that’s Anamoe.
“That’s why we chose the Queen Elizabeth. We want to challenge the horse and prove not only is he the best of his age but the best in the country.”
Make no mistake, it takes a very smart three-year-old to win the Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
It’s fair to say the race is rarely flush with the youngsters but it’s still 25 years since Intergaze, who upset the farewell of champion Octagonal, became the latest of his age group to win in 1997.
So it’s no easy race to win. Not when you have to beat a Horse Of The Year in Verry Elleegant, a superstar in Zaaki and some multiple Group 1 winning mares like Duais and Montefilia.
In Anamoe’s corner is the fact that he’s already proven himself at weight-for-age at three, and in the spring too, with his narrow defeat in the Cox Plate.
And a six length demolition in last month’s Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on a heavy track as his lead up.
“Anamoe has his position cemented already as a weight-for-age performer at the top level,’’ Cummings said.
“He’s a beautiful horse with a great temperament.
“I don’t want to put pressure on the horse but I have to say that I was even more pleased (with his work) than leading into the Cox Plate.”
Anamoe had a small scare last week with a slightly elevated temperature but it resolved quickly, with Cummings declaring it a non-issue, and he was $4.60 with TAB on Wednesday behind Verry Elleegant ($3).
Tommy Berry, who won the Hobartville second-up on Anamoe, has the plum Queen Elizabeth ride and as the colt showed in the Rosehill Guineas he has the ability to play the tactics game, especially now he’s fully fit.
“It goes without saying that tactics will be instrumental, we’ve seen that in many Queen Elizabeths,’’ Cummings said.
“It’s exciting for us to have a horse of this calibre and we’re delighted to have him in this position.”
There’s a case that stablemate Colette wouldn’t have been out of place in the Queen Elizabeth but Cummings is content to pursue her third Group 1 win against the mares in the $1m Sydney’s Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m).
The five-year-old, who won the Oaks two years ago at this meeting, has been runner-up in two of her three starts this autumn and chased Forbidden Love home in the Group 1 George Ryder (1500m) three weeks ago.
“To the casual observer, you might think she’s looking for 2000m this preparation but there’s a lot of rain forecast for the latter end of this week,’’ Cummings said.
“There’s a smaller number of horses in that mares’ race who will handle those conditions. Some of them are going to have their stamina sapped by those conditions and that’s going to suit Colette.
“We’ve got her very fit at the culmination of her preparation.”
Honeycreeper will be out to emulate Colette and complete the Adrian Knox-Australian Oaks double when she backs up in the $1 million feature for the fillies.
Though the Adrian Knox was her first run for six weeks she was strong at the end of the 2000m and the seven day turnaround can only help her with a testing 2400m.
“Hugh (Bowman) navigated his path very well, rode the patient race from the wide barrier and she proved she’s got a bit of class with the extra 3kg she was giving to her opposition,’’ Cummings said.
“We’re happy with the way she’s pulled up so far, she’s looking likely to run.
“Her prospects look quite bright and the horse is moving beautifully. She’s fit and ready to go.”
– Racing NSW