Consistent sprinter Fontelina is unlikely to be included in the 2014 George Ryder Stakes final field; with trainer Anthony Cummings revealing that he is set to save his star sprinter for a tilt at the Group 1 T.J. Smith Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on April 12.
Cummings included Fontelina in the George Ryder Stakes nominations that were released yesterday and strongly considered backing the son of Testa Rossa up in the Group 1 event this weekend after he finished fifth behind Pierro in the 2013 edition of the race.
The leading trainer told TVN that Fontelina had come out of his unlucky second place finish behind Spirit Of Boom in the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley last Friday in excellent condition and the five-year-old has previously performed well when given seven days between races, but Cummings believes that the $2.5 million sprint during The Championships is the better option for the gelding.
“It was probably the best he has pulled up from any of his races in the last few years,” Cummings told TVN this morning.
“We are very pleased with that.
“We nominated him for the George Ryder on Saturday just to have a looksee, he only got beaten a length in the race last year behind Pierro, and that is pretty strong form, but I am probably leaning to waiting for the T.J.”
Fontelina was set for a Doncaster Mile campaign during the 2013 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival, but failed to run out a strong 1600 metres and Cummings has since restricted the Group 2 winner to starts between 1200 and 1400 metres.
The Randwick-based galloper was narrowly denied a maiden Group 1 win in the Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival before winning the Group 2 Yellowglen Stakes (1200m) in impressive fashion and finishing a credible fourth behind Buffering in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m).
Fontelina started his autumn preparation in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) and had no luck after blundering at the start, but returned to his best form when he was a good thing beaten in the William Reid Stakes on Friday night.
Cummings will be having his first runner in the T.J. Smith Stakes and also has talented filly Scandiva and Challenge Stakes winner Villa Verde included in the nominations for the Group 1 event.