Trainer Anthony Cummings has never been afraid to chance his hand in big races and that’s why he has taken the Cox Plate off the table for Saturday’s Gloaming Stakes winner Strike The Stars.
“My partner keeps reminding me of that, I thought about it but at the end of the day I didn’t want to be tempted,” Cummings said.
“I left him out. I know myself too well and if he was in it, he’d be in it.”
The race he is in is the Spring Champion Stakes in two weeks against his fellow three-year-olds.
Strike The Stars was still a maiden prior to Saturday’s Group Three Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill but he did signal his ability with a closing third to Trusting at weight-for-age in the Chelmsford Stakes earlier this month.
On the strength of that he started the well-backed $2 Gloaming favourite, although his supporters had a few anxious moments at the start when he blundered and settled among the tailenders.
The plan had been to ride him in the first half of the field and jockey Hugh Bowman had to go back to the drawing board.
“I was going to be handy, I had to reassess,” Bowman said.
“He started even money so he was entitled to do what he did.
“Even though the second horse (Doctor Doom) skipped away, once I got out after him I was always going to catch him.”
Doctor Doom ($6.50) led for most of the race and looked to be travelling strongly coming around the turn.
Strike The Stars mounted the only serious challenge, angling off the fence and chasing resolutely to nab Doctor Doom by three-quarters of a length with King’s Pact ($26) running on out wide another 3-1/2 lengths in arrears.
Cummings confirmed Strike The Stars would press on to the Group One Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick in two weeks, a race he has won twice with Teranaba (2006) and Hotel Grand (2005).
“He’s a really good horse and he’s going places,” Cummings said.
“I would be disappointed if he wasn’t hard to beat in the Spring Champion.”
Doctor Doom’s jockey Rod Quinn said he thought he had the race in the bag until the final 100m.
“At the 600 metres I thought, ‘he’ll take a bit of beating from here’,” Quinn said.
“He kicked well and even at the furlong (200m) I couldn’t hear anything coming. Then I heard Hugh.
“He ran really well.”