James Cummings knows it isn’t the preference of many trainers to take on superstar mare Winx with a three-year-old but will do exactly that in the 2016 Chelmsford Stakes on Saturday with Prized Icon.
Cummings believes the weight-for-age $250,000 Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick Racecourse is the perfect fit for his More Than Ready colt at this early stage of his preparation.
As a juvenile Prized Icon won two of his seven starts including the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m) at the same track and distance as the Chelmsford on April 16.
He debuted as a three-year-old on August 20, also at Randwick, and ran under three lengths away fourth to Divine Prophet, an early fancy for Saturday week’s $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m), in the Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes (1300m).
It was a brave effort from the Group 1 winning youngster who lumped the hefty 61kg top weight in the form of Hugh Bowman.
On Saturday Prized Icon is a dual nominee across the Chelmsford Stakes Day card, also entered for the $125,000 Group 3 Ming Dynasty Quality Handicap (1400m).
Being a three-years-old handicap though, the Ming Dynasty would see Prized Icon at a disadvantage in the weights again and Cummings would prefer he drop right back to 50.5kg at weight-for-age in the Chelmsford.
“Taking on Winx is a path not many owners may want to pursue,” Cummings admitted to Racenet.
“But it gives me a chance to get my horse out to the mile in preparation for longer races during his spring campaign.
“Three-year-olds don’t usually contest the Chelmsford, but those that have done it have a reasonable record.
“Usually the Spring Stakes at Newcastle can be used as a springboard for three-year-olds heading towards longer races but it’s not being run this year so I thought this was a viable option.”
Cummings has brought Kathy O’Hara in for the light-weight ride, the jockey with previous experience aboard a three-year-old in the Chelmsford Stakes field.
“I rode Strike The Stars for Anthony Cummings a few years ago at 50.5kg and he ran third,” O’Hara said.
Only three three-year-olds since 2000 have run in the Chelmsford Stakes, O’Hara’s ride on Strike The Stars (3rd to Trusting in 2011) the latest.
The others where Platinumn Scissors (2nd to Lonhro in 2002) and Viscount (6th to Brave Prince in 2001).
The biggest challenge for Prized Icon is coming up against the best racehorse currently getting about down under, the Chris Waller-trained Winx.
Winx made it 10 straight first-up with an all-too-easy Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) win a fortnight back and carries 57kg again in the Chelmsford Stakes second-up.
The mile is ideal two runs in and the five-year-old daughter of Street Cry has won four, and placed second in the other of her five previous starts at the distance.
Prized Icon meanwhile will also relish getting back out over 1600m having won both of his starts over these metres.
“You never go into a race expecting to beat Winx, although getting 6.5kg off her is a good start,” O’Hara added.
Unsurprisingly Winx is at her shortest price to date currently paying just $1.20 in pre-field Chelmsford Stakes betting markets at Ladbrokes.com.au to continue her incredible run of form.
Prized Icon occupies the second line of these futures Chelmsford Stakes odds at $8.50 just ahead of the John O’Shea-trained Hartnell ($9.50) who ran second in the Warwick Stakes last time out.
Check out the early Chelmsford Stakes 2016 betting markets below before the final field and barriers are out on Wednesday – prices courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au.