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Legendary Hall of Famer Bart Cummings may have spent the week in hospital, but the 12-time Melbourne Cup winning trainer hasn’t stopped planning his assault on this year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Admitted to hospital after suffering chest pains, 83-year-old Cummings is in high spirits and has continued preparations to secure his baker’s dozen of Melbourne Cup victories ahead of his hopeful release by the end of the week.
Two serious bouts of pneumonia gave the maestro a scare last year, but Cummings is confident he hasn’t come down with the condition again and is also confident of another successful spring season with his prolific stable team.
“I’ve been a bit run down but I’m just about right now,” Cummings said.
“It was a good time to be out of the cold weather.”
Most famous for his 12 Melbourne Cup winners, Cummings may have missed the magic number 13 in last year’s Flemington showpiece, but he still enjoyed a sensational 2010 Spring Carnival thanks to former Aussie champion So You Think.
Last year So You Think won his second successive Cox Plate before finishing a game third to Melbourne Cup winner Americain in the $6 million two-mile feature.
While the sale of So You Think to European breeding powerhouse Coolmore Stud at the end of last year has left an unmistakable gap in Cummings’ contingent, he is still optimistic more Group 1 glory is on the cards in the coming months.
Of the now Aidan O’Brien-trained So You Think, recent winner of both the Group 1 Tattersall’s Gold Cup and Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes in Europe, Cummings conceded that he may never train another of his calibre.
In regards to the 2011 Melbourne Cup, to be run on Tuesday November 1, Cummings tipped Precedence as his top chance to secure a 13th ‘Loving Cup’ win.
Zabeel five-year-old Precedence lined up in last year’s Melbourne Cup clash, the triple stakes winner backing up from a win in the Group 2 Moonee Valley Gold Cup (2500m) with an eighth place Cup finish beaten nine and a half lengths by the winner.
Precedence was possibly beaten out of a better Melbourne Cup result after striking interference near the 2000 metres, and was sent for a three month stint in the paddocks following the run.
Bought back in February, Cummings’ first-up run for Precedence this year was in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
A wide barrier 12 draw, unsuitably short distance and hefty 59kg weight allocation saw Precedence well-beaten, the galloper crossing over 10 lengths away from the now-retired Horse of the Year Typhoon Tracy.
Next start a step up to 1800 metres produced a better result, Precedence running an encouraging second behind Heart Of Dreams in the Group 2 St George Stakes on Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
At their most recent appearance, Precedence again drew an awkward gate and after being tightened for room and getting checked near the 400 metre mark, eventually finished a brave fifth behind former Melbourne Cup winner Shocking in the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m).
Precedence has been enjoying a break before embarking on another spring carnival campaign aimed at the Melbourne Cup.
“Precedence’s getting prepared out of Melbourne and although it is wet and cold down there, he is doing a treat, I’m quite happy with him,” Cummings said.
One emerging talent that will not be flying the stable flag for Cummings this spring is his impressive young colt Salade.
Injury has ruled the son of Snitzel out of a spring crusade, which would likely have resulted in Group glory.
“Salade sprained his leg but seems OK now,” Cummings said.
“He needs a good time off, he’s had two months now but probably needs another two which means he will miss the spring.
“He’s a good horse for later on.”
During the autumn Salade was the emphatic winner of the Group 2 Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on debut in March, before a wide draw and race inexperience saw him run a credible eighth behind Peter Snowden’s superstar juvenile Sepoy in the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) on April 2.
Salade, however, will not get the chance for a rematch with Sepoy in any of the spring 3YO features and instead must wait until next year to prove his potential.
Another up-and-comer among the Cummings’ brigade is Do You Think, a rising three-year-old that his 264-time Group 1 winning trainer describes as a “nice horse.”
A well-bred Starcraft colt from Danehill mare Chickens, Do You Think showed great potential with back-to-back wins earlier this year including a black-type in the Group 3 The Schweppervescence (1400m) at Rosehill on April 2.
Stepping up to elite level company at just their third start, Do You Think came within two lengths of winner Helmet when eighth in the Group 1 AJC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on Derby Day.
Although eye-catching in both of these runs, it was Do You Think’s debut that was the standout.
Carrying 57 kg the colt won an 1100m handicap at Canterbury in a slick 1:03.75, a time exceptional to a debutant and that showed he has the makings of an authentic racehorse to watch out for.
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