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The Anthony Cummings-trained Vegadaze took out the Group 3 Star Kingdom Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill on Saturday thanks to a brilliant early ride from jockey Tom Marquand.
Vegadaze got away well from the barriers early to lead from the favourite Villami before fending off the two first-up Godolphin hopefuls, Manicure and Kementari. A big effort was required on the soft track, but with wet form to his name, Vegadaze kicked home for a tough win to enter into 2020 Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes calculations.
Cummings didn’t comment on whether or not the stable would look to back up in one of the four Group 1 races at Royal Randwick next week, but he did say the 1200m trip looks to be Vegadaze’s optimal distance moving forward.
“I think on the testing track such as we’ve found today it is the right time to try it. I do think it is probably closer to his right distance range. I think probably 1400m sees him out these days and 1200m on this sort of ground was very comfortable,” Cummings told Sky Racing.
The win marked Marquand’s second of the day after riding Holyfield home in The Schweppervescence. He said after the race that his horse’s improvement surprised him a little but that he had every bit of confidence coming down the straight.
“To be honest I didn’t really take into consideration that I was on the fittest horse, if anything I thought I had the toughest horse,” Marquand said.
“Going back through the replays, when he has got beat it’s been through getting ground down the last two or three strides, and the last furlong he was running on empty. So today when I was able to save a bit coming to the bottom of the straight I knew I had a winning partner and fair play to him he would have sooner tripped himself over than let himself get beat.”
Despite the impressive win, the bookies have shown Vegadaze no love in the TJ Smith Stakes betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au leaving him as a steady $101 shot. Kementari, meanwhile, showed enormous improvement and has firmed from $51 into $34.
2020 Star Kingdom Stakes Results
|1||7||VEGADAZE||Anthony Cummings||Tom Marquand||–||7||54kg (cd 54.5kg)||$11|
|2||6||MANICURE||James Cummings||Kerrin McEvoy||0.2L||3||54.5kg||$7|
|3||1||KEMENTARI||James Cummings||Hugh Bowman||0.6L||1||60kg||$5|
|4||2||TACTICAL ADVANTAGE||Kris Lees||Nash Rawiller||3.9L||2||58kg||$18|
|5||8||GOD OF THUNDER||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Brenton Avdulla||5.2L||12||54kg||$12|
|6||9||VILLAMI||Gerald Ryan||Tim Clark||5.4L||11||54kg||$3.80F|
|7||13||RIVER BIRD||Jason Coyle||Ms Kathy O’Hara||6.1L||5||53kg||$21|
|8||12||HANDLE THE TRUTH||Keith Dryden||Robbie Dolan (a)||6.2L||8||53.5kg||$7|
|9||4||BRAVE SONG||Peter & Paul Snowden||James McDonald||10.5L||9||57kg||$18|
|10||3||FELL SWOOP||Matthew Dale||Jay Ford||11.7L||6||57.5kg||$61|
|11||11||SPANISH DREAM||Paul Cave||Blake Spriggs||14.7L||10||54kg||$201|
|12||10||DIPLOMATICO||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||17.9L||4||54kg||$14|
|–||5||BOOKER||Gerald Ryan||Adam Hyeronimus||–||0||–||–|
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