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Image: Steve Hart
James Cummings will be chasing his first Australian Derby win since taking over as head trainer for Godolphin.

A quick back-up into the ATC Australian Derby holds no fears for connections of high-class filly Zardozi, who has scored two of her most significant wins off a short turnaround.

The Godolphin three-year-old won the Edward Manifold Stakes (1600m) six days after finishing unplaced over 1400m at Sandown, while her emphatic VRC Oaks (2500m) triumph in the spring came just five days after her narrow defeat in the Wakeful Stakes (2000m).

Assistant trainer Darren Beadman says boss James Cummings has always had a Derby start on the table and the prospect of a rain-affected track is no concern.

“It was always in the back of James’ mind to have her in this race,” Beadman said.

“She does back up very quick, she does like soft ground and she does run well over a trip. She did win the Oaks over 2500 and was in a league of her own against the fillies.

“She is bucking her brand off.”

Zardozi finished a gallant third behind star filly Orchestral and Tutta La Vita in last Saturday’s Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill, a race turned into a stamina test by Nash Rawiller when he went for home aboard the runner-up prior to the corner.

Coming off a New Zealand Derby preparation, Orchestral was able to dig deep at the finish and score and Beadman felt that fitness foundation was the difference.

“They really stretched it out when Nash took off on Tutta La Vita,” he said.

“Orchestral is obviously a very good filly and she had the mile-and-a-half run under her belt as well, so she was probably just a little more forward in her prep than our filly.”

Zardozi joins stablemate Tom Kitten in Saturday’s 2400m feature, which is expected to be run on a heavily rain-affected track, conditions both horses have handled in the past.

The winner of the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) in October, Tom Kitten didn’t push on to the Victoria Derby last preparation, but Cummings has seen fit to test his staying credentials this autumn.

He was beaten less than a length by Celestial Legend in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) and while he didn’t run to expectations when sixth in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m), Beadman said he was racing like a horse looking for further.

“The other day on face value I was a little bit disappointed, but I really think he’s looking for a mile-and-a-half now,” Beadman said.

“He looked a little bit dour the other day and to be fair, he was probably on the worst part of the track as well.

“But he’s a classy colt. He won the Spring Champion here as a three-year-old in the spring and he’s seasoned up nicely since then.”

Zardozi will be striving to become the first filly to win the Derby since Shamrocker in 2011, while Tom Kitten has come through the traditional lead up races with half of the past 20 Australian Derby winners having contested the Rosehill Guineas.

 
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