Blinkers on Drago for 2013 Spring Champion Stakes

Trainer Anthony Cummings is considering adding blinkers to Drago’s gear for their testing Spring Champion Stakes 2013 bid this Saturday in Sydney to correct their habit of getting too far back in their runs.


Former favourite Drago could wear blinkers in Saturday's Spring Champion Stakes. Photo: Steve Hart.

One of the top fancies for the $400,000 Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) running at Royal Randwick on the weekend, Cummings’ Danehill Dancer colt Drago hasn’t won a race this time in.

As a two-year-old last season they made a big impact producing two Group 1 fourths as well as an emphatic four length romp in the Juvenile Stayer over 1800m at Rosehill.

That came off the back of their fourth to Guelph in both the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) at Randwick, the form of which is stacking up with Guelph having won the Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m) over the weekend.

As a three-year-old however Drago remains a maiden.

After a nice first-up second in the Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes (1300m) there found themselves forced back from barrier 13 of 14 in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in mid-September and could only manage to finish 4.5 lengths away ninth to the Chris Waller-trained Zoustar.

At their next run they produced the same poor habit of falling back in the run eventually crossing third to Complacent in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) on September 28.

Now they will be tested at elite level again in the Spring Champion Stakes where they could don blinkers in an attempt to sharpen them up.

Until the Gloaming stakes Drago was heading futures Spring Champion Stakes betting but have since eased right out in the markets.

Cummings, who won back-to-back Spring Champion Stakes with Hotel Grand (2006) and Teranaba (2007) admits that it’s a very tough edition of the Spring Champion and that Drago will have to be at their best to defeat the crack field, and he’s thinking blinkers might do the trick.

“There is a chance he might wear blinkers on Saturday,” Cummings told the Daily Telegraph.

“We will see how goes with them on in trackwork but I think they might get him to settle a bit closer in the run. They might be some help to him.”

Among the main dangers likely to feature in the Spring Champion Stakes 2013 field released on Wednesday are early favourite Savvy Nature who was runner-up in the Gloaming Stakes, their last start conqueror in the Peter Snowden-trained Complacent and David Payne’s in-form Fastnet Rock colt Rock Hero shooting for their third win on the trot.

While wary of the competition, Cummings believes that his horse could have more improvement in them which may be enough of an advantage for an upset Spring Champion Stakes result.

“Savvy Nature had the benefit of a tough 1600m race 10 days before the Gloaming and his fitness levels were far higher than ours,” he said.

“My colt is going to improve more than the other horses from that exercise and experience.

“His trackwork since the Gloaming reflects that – he has really trained on well.”

Cummings also has Thunder Fantasy still officially entered for the race but admits the Lucky Owners colt is a doubtful chance of accepting.

Thunder Fantasy won back-to-back races when resuming this spring firstly at Hawkesbury and then over the Newcastle mile before finishing a luckless fifth to Rock Hero in the Listed Dulcify Quality Handicap (1600m) last Saturday where they were caught wide throughout.

“The plan was to be forward but he was three-deep facing the breeze and that is never a good idea,” Cumming said.

“When the favourite (Rock Hero) missed the start and didn’t lead, we ended up in a place where we shouldn’t have been.

“It was disappointing and frustrating to see how that race unfolded last weekend and I know he can improve off that run.

“His Newcastle win was impressive and this is a very good horse. I haven’t decided whether he backs up next Saturday, I just want to see how he does over the next couple of days.”

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