The performance of Thunder Fantasy in Saturday’s Group 1 $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington will determine the path the three year old takes for the remainder of Autumn Carnival.
Trainer Anthony Cummings is still undecided if he heads to the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick on April 12 or stick with the three year olds in the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on the same day.
Thunder Fantasy made up plenty of ground late to finish third to Shamus Award in the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington last Saturday and Cummings was happy to back the colt up this week and take on the weight for age horses over the 2000m.
“I think last week’s run has improved him. He had to come from an impossible position,” Cummings told AAP.
“If he goes as I think he will, it rules out the Doncaster and he will be on a path to the Australian Derby.”
A pleasing run over the 2000m will tempt Cummings to go to the Australian Derby or if he thinks he will be better suited over the short distances, a start in the Doncaster Mile could be the preferred option.
Thunder Fantasy, with Mark Zahra in the saddle again, will be taking on Shamus Award for the second week in a row and Cummings is giving his colt a good chance of reversing the placings but still sees the Gai Waterhouse trained Fiorente as the hardest to beat.
With the news that the Lloyd Williams owned Green Moon and Mourayan are to race on the pace, Cummings expects this could be the undoing of Shamus Award who was able to lead on his own in the Australian Guineas and when he won the Group 1 $3m Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley in the Spring.
“The change of tactics of the two Williams horses means Shamus Award won’t be able to get those same easy sectionals,” Cummings said.
“Given that’s going to happen he’s going to have to work and that will be different from the Cox Plate and different from the other day.
“He won’t be able to control the race.
“Fiorente is the one to beat.”
Fiorente has returned in great order since winning last year’s Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington and scored an impressive first up win in the Group 2 $220,000 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 22.
The Gai Waterhouse trained Fiorente heads the Australian Cup market order with Ladbrokes.com.au at $2.20 with the Danny O’Brien trainer Shamus Award the second pick at $4.40 in front of Thunder Fantasy at $8 and Foreteller from the Chris Waller stable at $9.