Cummings Using Expressway As Sprint Experiment For Acer

Trainer Edward Cummings believes it’s right time to find out how well his talented galloper Strait Acer can sprint.

Trainer Edward Cummings (Pic: Steve Hart)

So he’s using Saturday’s Group 2 $300,000 James Squire Expressway Stakes (1200m) as something of an experiment that, if he shines, could open up options for later in the year.

It sounded like a reference to the race being a mini-TAB Everest audition and why wouldn’t you want to find out when there’s a $20 million race sitting there run over the same course and distance.

“It’s the first time we’ve run him at 1200m but it’s an exciting opportunity with the conditions of the race,’’ Cummings said.

“If he’s very competitive in a race like this he could be competitive in other 1200m races.

“Randwick is perfect for him, it’s a good race at the right time of the carnival to kick him off and test him at the distance in this grade knowing he’s going to be comfortable when he gets to 1400m and 1500m.

“If he can add this string to his bow it’s only going to give everyone more to think about.”

This time last year Strait Acer, $11 with TAB on Thursday, was punching around in Midways and BM64 races but he came of age in the second half of the year with a slashing second in the $1m Silver Eagle (1300m), fourth in the $10m Golden Eagle and third in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes.

So the expectation is a lot higher for this campaign and from what Cummings is seeing out at his Hawkesbury base he’s dealing with an ever improving horse.

“It’s pretty normal I suppose when a horse turns into a good horse they start being talked about like one,’’ he said.

“He’s come back really well. In his coat, his mentality.

“There were obvious things he could improve on, general manners and the way he conducted himself on the track in the morning.

“He was probably at his best when he went down to Melbourne, well behaved and straightforward but still his usual bubbly self.

“He seems more comfortable in his own skin now which is good to see.”

Strait Acer will be among the nominations for the $4m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) but given Cummings is being experimental in the Expressway he’s anticipating a solid first-up showing.

“First and foremost I want him to hit the line, show his usual turn of speed late in the race,’’ he said.

“There are some leaders there, one of which has a strong fitness edge in Malkovich. It’s going to be a fascinating race.”

Cummings said it’s worth keeping an eye on Long Genes when the three-year-old resumes in the Chandon Garden Spritz Handicap (1400m).

It’s clear he has a handy opinion of the lightly raced horse who was tried at Group 1 level in the Spring Champion Stakes back in October but pulled up with an excuse.

With 52kg, Cummings said he wouldn’t put it past Long Genes to make his presence felt late.

“He’s definitely the fresh horse, it’s an interesting play but I like the weight relief he’s got. I like Randwick for this horse,’’ he said.

“How far out of his ground he’s going to be I’m not quite sure and he’s taking on horses that are deep into their preparations.

“I don’t think we’ve settled on what his best distance is. He’s run a bottler in the Gloaming and pulled up with cardiac arrhythmia in his grand final race so that was completely inconclusive.

“He’s come back very well, he’s feeling well. I like the horse, he’s got a great attitude.”

– Racing NSW

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