Trainer Anthony Cummings does not believe Cluster will have any problems navigating the tight-turning Moonee Valley circuit when he makes his debut at the track in tonight’s Group 2 Stutt Stakes (1600m).
Cluster will be racing outside New South Wales for the first time in his career and is still chasing his first victory after having no luck in his four previous starts.
The three-year-old had his first look at Moonee Valley on Monday and Cummings told Racing Ahead this morning that the Fastnet Rock colt worked well on the unique track.
“He had a look at the track and the turns on Monday morning and worked very well,” Cummings said.
“He really didn’t turn a hair so I would imagine he will be fine going there.
“Night racing is another challenge to add into all of that but I think most of the horses going there tonight will be having their first look at it so they are all in the same boat.”
Cluster was well backed in the lead-up to the Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens a fortnight ago but over raced in the early stages and faded to finish eighth behind Zoustar.
Cummings said that he was happy with the performance considering how quickly the $1 million Group 1 event was run.
“I thought that the horse ran very well in all the circumstances,” Cummings said.
“The race was run unusually, they went out really hard, and we had a race plan to be a bit more positive out of the gates and it turned to be the wrong thing to do as the race unfolded.
“He made his run a little too soon and was going too quickly at the turn to get around.
“He should have waited and got into the straight in a better position before accelerating on him.”
Hugh Bowman, who rode Cluster in his first two race starts, will replace James McDonald on the classy colt in the Stutt Stakes tonight and Cummings said he won’t be giving the experienced jockey any strict instructions.
“I am going to leave it to Hughie and see what happens there,” the Sydney-based trainer said.
“There should be enough speed in the race and hopefully Hughie can get in a reasonable position in that first furlong so he can be effective in the finish.”
Last year’s edition of the Stutt Stakes was a key form race for the remainder of the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival; with Pierro winning the race before going on to finish second in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m).