2013 Festival Stakes Kicks Off Strike The Stars’ Summer

Sydney’s Anthony Cummings has opted to keep his promising galloper Strike The Stars in Sydney for a summer campaign kicking off in the Festival Stakes 2013 this Saturday over a Group 1 bid in Perth.

Strike The Stars

Strike The Stars will race in the Sydney Summer features ahead of the Autumn Carnival 2014. Photo: Steve Hart.

Second as a three-year-old in last year’s Australian Guineas, Savabeel gelding Strike The Stars is one of three single figure chances in the markets for this weekend’s $100,000 Listed Blackwoods Stanley Dewalt Festival Stakes (1500m).

A first-up winner at Randwick earlier this prep, the now five-year-old went on to run a close third behind speedster Smokin’ Joey in a Group 3, 1400m feature on Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington at the start of the month.

Their last effort was a brave eighth when beaten just two lengths by the Chris Waller-trained Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) seven days after Cup Day.

They race over a similar distance this weekend but back in Sydney where they’ll stay for the summer features.

Cummings toyed with the idea of sending them west for a shot at the Perth Summer Racing Carnival features.

He opted not to make the trip over for last Saturday’s $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m), won by top local Luckygray, or the upcoming $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) however.

Instead he’ll look after the long-term interests of the horse looking ahead to the autumn instead of risking them at the notoriously hot and dry Ascot Racecourse.

“I thought about Perth and he was on track to go but he felt the track at Flemington on the last day of the carnival and jarred up a little bit,” Cummings explained to AAP.

“He’s a pretty nice horse and I want to look after him for the autumn.

“Perth can be pretty tough on horses and I wasn’t prepared to take that risk.”

Paying $9.50 in the latest Festival Stakes odds, Strike The Stars’ biggest dangers at home this weekend are the in-form Terravista ($3.30) and White Sage ($3.70) drawn at opposite ends of the field in barriers two and 18 respectively.

Both coming off multiple wins and are up in class here while Strike The Stars drops back in class.

Cummings is confident the recent good form of the former top three-year-old however makes them the one to beat.

“He’s had his best prep since his three-year-old year so I’m pretty happy about that,” Cummings said.

Looking ahead after Saturday Strike The Stars will take on all the usual Sydney summer suspects.

“There’s this race (the Festival), he’s got the Villiers and he’s got the Summer Cup,” Cummings said.

“If I got to that point then he can have a break and get ready for the autumn after that.”

The $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) runs at Royal Randwick on December 7 followed by the $125,000 Group 3 Summer Cup (2000m) at the same track on Boxing Day.

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