Godolphin trainer James Cummings is the first to admit Osborne Bulls has to step up to be in the finish of Saturday’s $13m TAB Everest (1200m) at Royal Randwick.
The TAB Everest brings together some of the best sprinters from around the world to chase a slice of the A$13 million in prizemoney – the winner takes home the rand equivalent of R61 million – at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
The 1200m sprint is the centrepiece of a new-look spring racing program introduced by Racing NSW and the Australian Turf Club.
The carnival boasts a staggering A$25.5 million prizemoney over a five-week period from September 8 to October 13.
James Cummings may only be 30 but, as a grandson and former training partner of the legendary Bart Cummings, he carries with him generations of racing knowledge.
And that tells him to prepare the horse as best he can, look to the positives and leave it to the great uncertainty of racing.
It was never the plan for Osborne Bulls to contest The Everest but he’s been thrown in the deep end in the Australian Turf Club slot with the scratching of stablemate, and Theo Marks Stakes winner, Home Of The Brave due to an elevated temperature.
“We’ve got our feet on the ground with Osborne Bulls but we are confident the horse is at his best to run a big race,’’ Cummings said.
“After we ran in the Rupert Clarke we agreed to run him in the best race we could but you’d have been a brave man to suggest he’d have got his way into The Everest.
“But here we are. On the positive note our horse is really flying.
“And there was barely a horse that worked better than him at Osborne Park (Godolphin’s training facility in Sydney’s outer west) on Tuesday morning. It wouldn’t be the craziest result in the world to see him looming up and being competitive.’’
Sheikh Mohammed’s five-year-old gelding, by Winx’s sire Street Cry, didn’t start his racing career until the last week of July last year where he won on debut at Newcastle.
He’s quickly climbed the ladder winning eight of his first 11 starts, including two Listed races, before making his Group 1 debut in the Sir Rupert Clarke (1400m) at Caulfield on September 22.
Although he missed a place for the first time there, beaten just over a length in fifth behind Godolphin’s international Group 1 winner Jungle Cat, Cummings said the fast-finishing run was full of merit.
“He was going into that race off a setback and it was a high pressure Group 1 so I’d be forgiving him that one,’’ he said.
“He ran well without winning but I know he has come on from there.
“He’s probably seasoned enough now, he’s had a trip away and won at various venues but he has shown particular aptitude at Randwick and has a terrific record third-up so I wouldn’t be completely blown away.’’
In TAB’s extremely wide Everest market, Osborne Bulls was a $17 chance on Thursday.
That’s a healthy amount of respect for the horse’s consistency and a reflection of just how open Australia’s richest race is.
Cummings said Osborne Bulls’ honesty makes him a popular horse with punters, and that popularity is boosted by Tommy Berry taking the ride, but knows he’s going to have to pull out a career best.
“He’s a weapon and has shown a devastating turn of foot in the past but he’s up against some extremely fast and strong WFA 1200m sprinters,’’ Cummings said.
“In a small way we were a part of the appetiser last year with Impending running an unlucky second to In Her Time in the Sydney Stakes (Everest consolation).
“Now we are part of the main event I can tell you we’re excited, I can’t imagine the excitement being contained too much if he’s looming up in this race.’’
As for Home Of The Brave, Cummings said the imported sprinter is being given an easy week to recover from his temperature spike and he may have another run later in the spring.