The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
Godolphin head trainer James Cummings still believes perennial placegetter Sanctioned can break-through with a Group win in Saturday’s Spring Champion Stakes 2017 on way to the VRC Derby.
The stable are hoping the Teofilo colt can prove their theories he is a genuine young staying type when facing his last start conqueror Ace High at Royal Randwick in the Group 1 $500,000 Moet & Chandon Spring Champion Stakes (2000m).
The up-and-comer has longed been selected by the Godolphin team as a potential runner in the Group 1 $1.5 million Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington in November’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.
To justify a trip south, Sanctioned will need to show-up in Sydney on the weekend stepping up in distance for the Spring Champion Stakes.
To date the galloper has won one of his five starts when saluting over just 1200m at Newcastle back in late March as a juvenile.
His three-year-old campaign has been impressive, without a victory, Sanctioned running three straight Group placings around the Sydney tracks.
First-up he ran two and a half-lengths back third at Randwick in the Group 3 Up & Coming Stakes (1300m), before back-to-back Rosehill seconds.
The first of those was behind Gold Standard in the Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m), while his latest run was the second behind the David Payne-trained Ace High in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m).
Sanctioned was just over a length off Ace High in the Gloaming Stakes, a race that has produced five of the past seven Spring Champion Stakes winners.
All of those Gloaming Stakes graduates that went on to win the Spring Champion Stakes over the 200m extra finished top two in the lead-up, which bodes well for both Ace High and Sanctioned on Saturday.
Sanctioned had his chances in the race, but was outstayed, something Cummings hopes he can atone for peaking fourth-up on the weekend.
“Of course, if he’d gone past Gold Standard or Ace High who have beaten him in his last two, then there would have been no concerns about the distance,” Cummings told Racing NSW.
“But he bumped into two colts who are really flying, so I didn’t walk away too disappointed from those races.
“He’s just going ahead in his own time and if he happens to produce his best performance here, fourth up and in a Group 1 I’d be delighted.
“I think he has the chance to dispel all of those queries. In five starts to date he’s not shirked the task once. He’s finished in the placings every time.”
After drawing a treat in barrier four, Ace High has retained favouritism in the post-field Spring Champion Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Sanctioned occupies the second line of updated Spring Champion Stakes betting paying $4.50 with Kerrin McEvoy to ride him from the outside barrier (10 of 10).
Cummings is also represented in the field by Astoria in gate eight, an $8 chance to improve on the Gloaming Stakes fifth when on a short back-up off the Group 3 Spring Stakes (1600m) win at Newcastle.
“Astoria switched off last start on the seven-day back up after having an easy week leading into the Gloaming,” Cummings said.
“He has responded to a better preparation for this race and appears to have gone to another level with the re-application of a set of winkers to keep him focused.
“His energy levels are right back up and he’s got a better opportunity of getting back to his best.”
To back the Cummings-trained gallopers for an upset Spring Champion Stakes 2017 result this weekend visit Ladbrokes.com.au.
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