Trainer James Cummings has his smart first up performer Viridine revved up to mow down odds on favourite Nature Strip in the Group 2 $200,000 Mitty’s McEwen Stakes (1000m) at The Valley on Saturday.
The Darren Weir trained Nature Strip is chasing his fourth win on the trot and has been installed as the $1.50 favourite at Ladbrokes.com.au for the McEwen Stakes but Cummings is expecting a first class first up run from Viridine who is a two times winner from three first up attempts.
“Viridine is set to run very well first-up in what is the race of the day,” Cummings told racinhg.com.
“He has been strong throughout his preliminaries”
“He’s had a patient build-up and he’ll test himself here at a good level. But he’s no stranger to tough opposition having raced against the likes of Redzel, English and In Her Time last campaign.
“The 1000 metres first-up will be interesting for him.
Viridine has to overcome a couple of hurdles before he will be able to toppled Nature Strip who is the in-form sprinter from the powerful Darren Weir stable.
Viridine ($14) will be stepping out for the first time on the tricky Moonee Valley circuit and will have to contend with barrier seven in the eight horse field while Nature Strip is a winner over the same course and distance as the McEwen Stakes and has the luxury of drawing the rails.
Mark Zahra replaces the suspended Damian Lane on Nature Strip who is coming off a six lengths win in the Listed $100,000 Lightning Stakes (1050m) at Morphettville on July 28 while Craig Williams gets his first ride on Viridine who is having his first run back since finishing seventeenth to Santa Ana Lane in the Group 1 $1m Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville on May 19.