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Twice Anthony Cummings has had to wait for the judge to tell him Fontelina has been beaten in Group One races too close to call.

If it happens again in the TJ Smith Stakes on Saturday the only other thing the trainer wants to see in the frame is the pretty grey head of Fontelina’s stablemate Villa Verde.

Fontelina, Peter Robl

Fontelina, Peter Robl

At his most recent start, Fontelina was nosed out by Spirit Of Boom in the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley after a chequered passage in the straight.

In the Rupert Clarke Stakes in the spring, it was Rebel Dane who nabbed him on the line.

Both are in the TJ Smith field but Cummings rates Lankan Rupee as the one to beat this time.

“Fontelina was very unlucky at his last start at the same level. To my eye he should plainly have won with an ounce of luck and he’s drawn to get the luck on Saturday.

“Villa Verde equally. The barrier beat her last time but she hit the line like a Group One horse should and she’s already won at weight-for-age against most of these.

“I think the stable a great chance of running the quinella.

“Lankan Rupee is obviously the horse to beat for both of them.

“He is what they call the testing material so hopefully we can do that – give him a test.”

Cummings is not so worried about Irish visitor Gordon Lord Byron who won the George Ryder Stakes at his first Australian appearance and drops back from 1500 to 1200 metres.

“It will be some sort of training feat sdx if he can do it,” Cummings said.

“He’s got to come back in distance. The wet track makes it a bit easier to do that and he is a good calibre of horse but I’m happy with my two.”

Villa Verde has had two starts for Cummings, the first a scintillating win over TJ Smith rival Snitzerland in the Group Two Challenge Stakes.

She then started from the widest barrier in the Group One Galaxy and rattled home from near last to run third behind Tiger Tees and Anatina.

Hugh Bowman rides Fontelina for the first time with William Reid jockey Glen Boss reuniting with Rebel Dane.

Boss believes the TJ Smith will overshadow the Doncaster as the best contest of the day and is equally as confident about his chances as Cummings is about his.

“The TJ Smith looks like the race of the day for mine,” Boss said.

“Rebel Dane has won on soft. He’s unbelievable first-up. His rating is very good first-up and he’s had a good trial.

“I galloped him on Tuesday at Warwick Farm and he galloped really solid. He’s in a good space.

“He’s a Group One winner and he’s a genuine Group One horse.”

 
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