Godolphin to sort out Victoria Derby prospects 'on the pitch'

Ben Dorries - Thursday October 19

James Cummings says he is keen to let Godolphin's Victoria Derby candidates sort themselves out "on the pitch".

James Cummings thinks three-year-old Godolphin colt Ataraxia is a big improver but says he will need to be Photo: Darryl Sherer

And that's part of the plan to see if Ataraxia has improved sufficiently to contend in Saturday's Group III Ladbrokes Classic at Caulfield (2000m) and be a serious Derby prospect.

A lot has changed for Cummings since he won last year's Victoria Derby with Prized Icon, being appointed as Godolphin's Australian head trainer in May.

But Cummings has a chance of back-to-back Derby wins with several hopefuls, including last start Dulcify Classic winner Ataraxia.

In latest Derby betting markets, Ataraxia is rated at $21 and is only marginally behind Godolphin stablemate Sanctioned ($17) which ran eighth in last week's Caulfield Guineas.

Another Godolphin colt, Animalia, is currently priced at $26 in Derby markets.

Cummings feels Ataraxia, at $8.50 in Saturday's 2000m Ladbrokes Classic, is a big improver.

But he said the son of Teofilo would need to have improved to beat Tangled ($3.60 fav), which closed in sharply when Tangled fourth in the Dulcify.

Ataraxia now faces the task of confronting Tangled, who then ran a narrow second in the Group I Spring Champion Stakes (2000m), worse at the weights in the set weights conditions of the Ladbrokes Classic.

"I've got a few live chances that are building towards being potential Derby runners … but I will let them sort themselves out on the pitch," Cummings said.

"At set weights Ataraxia is maybe not up to their level yet but he is an improver.

"He rewarded us in the Dulcify and he was really good in that race, albeit getting plenty of weight from Tangled.

"He meets Tangled at set weights and he will have need to have gone to another level to be getting the better of that horse.

"Whether he is ready to do that at this run, or his next, remains to be seen.

"But he certainly looks the part and Saturday's race will be a good test for him as it is a good field with plenty of depth."

Ataraxia will be ridden by Hugh Bowman on Saturday and will jump from the second widest barrier in the eight-horse Ladbrokes Classic field.

As for ageing star Hartnell, Cummings says he remains undecided what to do with the multiple Group I winner.

Hartnell struck trouble in the Group I Ladbrokes Stakes, when he was beaten six lengths by Gailo Chop, but did not appear as though he would have been a threat in the race anyhow.

"We are just giving him an easy week and deciding what to do with him from there," Cummings said.

"We don't have to persevere with him if we don't feel he is up to it."

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