Cluster was unable to record a maiden race win during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival but trainer Anthony Cummings remains confident that the Fastnet Rockcolt is good enough to compete at Group 1 level.
Cummings claimed that Cluster might be the best three-year-old in Australia after he finished second behind Va Pensiero in the Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) but the colt had no luck in the remainder of his starts last preparation; finishing fifth in the Group 3 The Run To The Rose (1200m), eighth in the Group 1 Golden Rose Stakes (1400m), third in the Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m) and tenth in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
The leading trainer admitted that it was a frustrating preparation with Cluster but Cummings believes, based on his form lines, that Cluster is good enough to be competitive against the leading three-year-olds at the highest level of racing.
“He has form lines around the Cox Plate winner and I am hopeful that he gets to that level,” Cummings told Racing Ahead on RSN.
“It has been a frustrating preparation for him all the way through and he ran very well on every occasion but the races never went his way.
“Hopefully we have had the bad luck with him now and that turns around but he could easily turn up in one of the better sprint races early on in Melbourne or go to either of the two Guineas.”
Cummings said that Cluster is almost ready to return to trackwork, after a stint in the spelling paddock, but he is yet to decide on what races he will target with the three-year-old during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing.
Sprint races like the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 15 and the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) could be on the agenda for Cluster, while he is also a chance to press on to the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) and the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m).
“There are lots of opportunities for him but the first thing is to break his maiden,” Cummings said.
“I haven’t spoken to his owner yet but he has had just about the time we were talking about in the paddock now and we will work out a plan going forward.
“We will certainly give more attention to that (sprint races) in the first part of his preparation and then have a look at races like the Randwick Guineas and the Australian Guineas at Flemington.”
Cummings has never won the Australian Guineas but took out the 2006 Randwick Guineas with Hotel Grand.