Kensington meeting to unearth Villiers Stakes candidates

By: Mark Mazzaglia
November 21st, 2014

A low key Kensington meeting at Randwick on Saturday could unearth several candidates for the Group 2 $175,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick on December 13.

Surge Ahead, red and black, is one of Anthony Cummings runners on trial for the Villiers Stakes at Randwick. Photo by Race Horse Photos Australia.

Surge Ahead, red and black, is one of Anthony Cummings runners on trial for the Villiers Stakes at Randwick. Photo by Race Horse Photos Australia.

Trainer Anthony Cummings has earmarked three of his Kensington runners, Paris Match, Drago and Surge Ahead, who could earn themselves a start in the feature ‘mile’ race of the Sydney Summer Carnival.

Cummings said that he will assess all three runner’s efforts on Sunday morning to decide if he will push on with an optimistic Summer campaign.

They’re all still in the mix,” Cummings told AAP.

“We’ll sit down on Sunday morning, see what the hell happened and work it out from there.”

Last start Randwick 1400m winner Paris Match is stepping up in distance in the $85,000 Swim Between The Flags BenchMark 80 Handicap (1800m) and another win could see her tested at Stakes level.

Four year old Drago has failed to achieve the heights that Cummings had aspired for him during his three year old season and is back to Saturday class in the $85,000 Choose Segenhoe BenchMark 75 Handicap (1550m) after running second in a restricted 1550m Handicap at the Canterbury night meeting on October 24.

Cummings also thinks that Surge Ahead has plenty of potential and hoping a fruitful Summer will set up a good Autumn Carnival campaign, starting in the $85,000 Coolmore BenchMark80 Handicap (1300m) on Saturday.

“I think we’re probably at the beginning of what should be his best preparation. Hopefully it leads us in to something through the autumn,” Cummings said.

“He was a little bit behind the others in maturity and at Group One level last time but given the extra time in the paddock we’re hopeful he’s able to take that step.

“Equally, he’s a benchmark 70-something and he’s entitled to an opportunity to work through his grades and see exactly where he does fit.”

Surge Ahead was able to win at Listed level by taking out the $150,000 Connoisseur Stakes (1800m) at Flemington during last year’s Melbourne Spring Carnival which prompted Cummings to test him against the three year olds in Group 1 company during the Autumn earlier this year.

The Danehill Dancer gelding was beaten less than two lengths when sixth in the Group 1 $500,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington before running third in the Group 2 $220,000 Sportingbet Alister Clark Stakes (2040m) at Moonee Valley.

Surge Ahead was then taken back to Sydney but was clearly outclassed with a seventh in the Group 1 $500,000 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) at Rosehill followed by a seventeenth in the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick.

Paris Match is the most fancied of the Cummings runners and has been installed the $3.50 favourite at in the Swim Between The Flags Handicap.

While Drago is marked as $8 chance in the Choose Segenhoe Handicap and Surge Ahead is at the healthy odds of $12 in the Coolmore Handicap.

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