Peter Snowden will run Group 1 performed colt Cluster at Rosehill this Saturday as the rising four-year-old looks to prove their Epsom Handicap 2014 claims this Sydney Spring Racing Carnival.
Former prepared by fellow Sydney horseman Anthony Cummings, the son of Fastnet Rock joined Snowden’s team at the start of the year.
Under Cummings they had six starts for zero wins but were twice tested at elite level.
Showing early promise they jumped an $11 chance after getting smashed by the punters pre-race in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) last September.
Cluster only managed to finish three and a half lengths away eighth however to Chris Waller’s winner Zoustar.
They travelled to Melbourne next start and finished an improved third this time beaten under half a length by Divine Calling when stepped up to a mile in the Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley.
Another unplaced Group 1 race followed however when on October 12 they were blocked for a run in the Caulfield Guineas and finished a well beaten 10th behind the Darley-owned Long John.
A stable change followed over the break and Cluster moved into the care of Peter and his son Paul Snowden.
He debuted for his new trainers at Kembla Grange on June 28 and finally broke through for their first win with an impressive nine and a half length romp over 1200m in a maiden plate.
“If he was going to measure up, he needed to win a race like that,” Snowden said.
“What I liked about his win was the way he went through the line. He was strong, and the further he went, the stronger he looked.”
Now Snowden, who stepped down from his position as private trainer for Darley earlier this year, is hoping they continue that form when they race again at Rosehill Gardens this weekend.
They are one of nine in the mix for the $85,000 Forum Group Handicap (1200m), Cluster to be ridden from barrier seven with Joshua Parr in the saddle.
Parr already has a very high opinion of the up-and-comer, so much so that he rode them at Kembla Grange first-up before hopping back in his car after the race to get back to Rosehill for rides later that afternoon.
“He did what we wanted him to do,” Parr said.
“He was expected to go down there and beat what was a pretty average field.
“To see him run away from them was encouraging. The last 100m was the best part of his race.
“He lengthened not long after straightening, then lengthened again inside the last 150m and really stretched out to the line.
“I don’t think he’s a natural leader, but I think he’s pretty versatile.
“He’s easy to work with, and even when it comes to trackwork, he’s so push-button.”
Sure to start as the short priced favourite in the BenchMark 80 event this weekend, Snowden will get a better idea of where Cluster fits in class wise after the run.
“He’s in good order, I’m happy with his work, he’s ticking along nicely, and Saturday is just another race for him to see where he fits in,” Snowden told The Daily Telegraph this week.
He is confident Cluster has a Group win in them this spring and is hoping they can develop into a Group 1 horse over the coming months as he carefully plans their preparation.
“I am mindful of how far away the main races are, so I’m trying to spread his (runs) a bit,” Snowden said.
“I want him racing around September and October.
“We’re only just into July, so I don’t want to have too many races before the main ones come, if he’s up to them.
“That’s why I’ve left it three weeks since his first-up run.”
Cluster was also spelled for such a length, eight and a half months, that it will take longer to get them race fit and in peak form for their major assignments than if they’d only had a short let-up.
“The longer they’re out, and being a colt, the harder it is to get them fit,” Snowden said when expalinign why they had come back into work early.
Having already shown promise over the 1600m Snowden believes they could then be suited for a campaign targeting the $500,000 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick on October 4.
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