Cummings’s filly to come up roses

Pretty baby … three-year-old She’s A Fox with Anthony Cummings at his Kensington stables this week. The Fastnet Rock filly is in tomorrow’s Rosebud at Warwick Farm.ANTHONY CUMMINGS had seen enough of Foxwedge to know buying the first-season sire’s sister was the right way to go. Cummings pipped Foxwedge’s trainer John O’Shea when he forked out $600,000 for the filly at last year’s William Inglis Easter yearling sale.

”I had a big opinion of Foxwedge at the time,” Cummings said this week. ”I’d seen him at the track throughout his Golden Slipper preparation and his level of performance was high.

”I had the view he would reach group 1 level and he did that.”

Foxwedge claimed his belated group 1 in March when beating Black Caviar’s punching bag Hay List to claim the William Reid Stakes at Moonee Valley.

The filly Cummings bought was named She’s A Fox and it was all falling into place for the horseman who prepares thoroughbreds alongside O’Shea at Randwick. ”I had some people interested in her at the time she went through the [sale] ring,” Cummings said. ”A few others wanted to get involved a few months later, so it has worked out well.”

The underbidder on She’s A Fox was O’Shea, whose Foxwedge was plucked out of the Inglis ring for $925,000 and earlier this year was syndicated for $10 million to stand at Newgate Farm stud.

”Foxwedge was as good a colt as you would see at a sale,” O’Shea said yesterday. ”She’s A Fox was a nice, neat filly.”

O’Shea has taken an interest in She’s A Fox and has monitored her development. ”She is going to be like him, get better every season,” O’Shea said. ”She is tough, sound and has a good turn of foot.”

Cummings thought ”she was better than he was for different reasons … I hope she proves that in time”.

He wasn’t about to divulge what those differences were.

”Foxwedge’s efforts on the track made this filly pretty cheap at the time,” Cummings said. ”In the greater scheme of things, paying the money we did wasn’t going to be ridiculous knowing where Foxwedge would end up. I couldn’t be happier.”

A week before Foxwedge won the William Reid, She’s A Fox went to the races for the first time and

scored in style under Hugh Bowman at Canterbury. Being a late bloomer, Cummings and his team thought a crack at the Golden Slipper was in order but She’s A Fox came up short because of problems in the lead-up and was off to the paddock.

Jockey Peter Robl was on board when She’s A Fox returned and routed rivals to win at Warwick Farm last month. Bowman, who was on holiday when She’s A Fox won first-up, goes back on board in tomorrow’s 1200-metre Rosebud at Warwick Farm.

”I had a lot to do with her early on and she always gave me a good feel,” Bowman said.

”I felt she was a genuine black-type filly. It all came a bit soon in the autumn but I trialled her before the first-up run and to me she is ready to take the next step.”

As Cummings said ”everything I expected has taken place … bar the one bad run when she pulled up injured. She had to go to the paddock. It did her the world of good. She is a really good athlete and has a beautiful nature. That really helps her find the best of her ability when she is asked.

”There has only been two times she has been asked that question and she has responded on those two days. The other time she had an issue.

”Hopefully she continues on in the same vein as she did first-up. She is a good filly.”

She’s A Fox will be opposed by just five other runners in the Rosebud, a lead-up to the $1 million Golden Rose.

While Cummings is setting She’s A Fox for feature races during the spring carnival, O’Shea has no grand plans for Gangster’s Choice, which returns in tomorrow’s The Bledisloe Cup at the Farm. ”He has had two good trials and as long as he gets a dry track he’ll be competitive, but he will improve with the run,” he said.

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ABC program throws little new light on crime lords

Jim Cassidy, an angel on horseback, has been known to pull the wrong rein at ground level, again emphasised by the ABC’s Inside Mail report on Four Corners on Monday.

The program has been criticised by insiders, although the general viewer would deduce racing is the playground of drug runners and hit men. Still, little has changed. Oscar Wilde once said the racecourse was ”a sunny place for shady people”.

At times Cassidy, one of the saddle greats, has been known to associate with characters who ended up with form that placed them at Long Bay or Pentridge, not that he necessarily was aware of that at the time.

Most of what was reported on Monday was history but the Tony Mokbel connection kept the organised-crime aspect on the boil. ”I watched the program after the sensational billing with a mixture of anger and fragility that they could present 45 minutes of television which was just a rehash of scandals of the past,” said Peter McGauran, the former federal politician turned Australian Racing Board chief executive.

Perhaps it could be deduced McGauran would say that, but not Peter Mair. ”I am unrelenting in asking for the racing stewards across the nation to show some semblance of intelligent dedication to finding and penalising the misbehaviour routinely, day to day, bringing racing into disrepute across the nation,” Mair emailed. ”The Inside Mail program aired on ABC1 was contrived nonsense – it had nothing directly to do with the murder of Les Samba, it was mainly rehashed anecdotes about a likeable criminal, now in jail, predictably asking jockeys for advice about how to minimise the risk of his dirty socks being lost in the local laundering wash.

”Presumably, the police and AUSTRAC [Australia’s anti-money laundering unit] are now monitoring the casinos. Tonight’s Four Corners was all smoke and no fire – complete with cameo appearances from keystone members of the Victorian police force.”

Bad guys are drawn to the racing honeypot. Many preceded Mokbel and others will follow. Some like the punt, coupled with laundering. Most are looking for an edge, which obviously prompted the Inside Mail title.

Aussie Bob Trimbole and his racing connections got a mention. Trimbole was much appreciated by bookmakers. He lost heavily and paid, albeit with ill-gotten gains. Was he outlaying a cartload to get a handful of useable cash in return?

What is inside mail?

Being assured of the try and the strength of the tip helps, but few horses with a winning chance are sent out with the jockey asked to apply the brakes. In the good old days, much hinged on connections getting their price. If not, drastic action was taken.

Blood counts being right or bad and ”the horse doing well” are bandied around but a good thing livened up with a jigger (battery) in a lead-up track gallop has more traction.

Information like that once sent me into full gallop towards the nearest bookmaker, mostly to end up sizzled more than the poor horse. Horses get immune to it.

Being closest to the horse’s mouth, jockey information is eagerly sought. Great horsemen aren’t necessarily good judges …

”Jockeys especially will send you broke,” George Freeman, who had a certain notoriety, once exclaimed. ”They ring you up and say this will win and they haven’t even ridden it [in track] work.”

Perce Galea, also a big plunger of his era, would only bet for them if the jockey put his own money in. Thus if the jockey had $500 on the horse, Galea would bet him the odds to $500 plus his own outlay. Of course this is highly illegal and the jockey would serve serious time if caught.

However, the structure of racing has changed. Prizemoney and strike rates play a greater role than the punt. Not that deaduns are extinct. Having been reared on the doctrine of good losers die broke, I can usually sort out a couple, and fume in two-chance races when one, carrying mine, gets left at the start. Stewards’ inquiries, explanations and replays, though, can provide a reasonable doubt.

One aspect of Inside Mail that initiated a personal colic attack was stewards didn’t have the necessary interviewing technique to get the truth out of those questioned. I’d back John Schreck and Ray Murrihy for a better result with a jockey, trainer or licensed person because of their turf knowledge than any interrogator who didn’t have the assistance of waterboarding or electricity to a tender spot.

Schreck was responsible for the Fine Cotton finding and Jockey Tapes, the two beacons of racing investigation. Fortunately, he had the support of the Australian Jockey Club committee. Today’s system, more democratic, doesn’t give Murrihy the same back-up.

Murrihy once outed a jockey after a performance that entitled the hoop to get a ”would hold a burning hot stove” rating. During an interval at the appeal, I mentioned to him that he wasn’t going to win because turf lore went out and the law came in.

Racing doesn’t need more integrity bureaucrats or too much police assistance unless it’s a jockey tape (bugged) left in the steward’s letterbox. Good stewards are our best bet.

And Cassidy will be back on August 22 after a sabbatical, taken not to polish up his acting for a coming Underbelly episode, but to get the pump again working smoothly.

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Waller juggernaut on track for a relaxed but profitable Saturday at the office

No stopping him … Chris Waller has a small team entered at Warwick Farm.CHRIS WALLER’S thoroughbred stocks for a Saturday meeting in town normally reach double figures but the Kiwi has only six runners scheduled for Warwick Farm tomorrow.

The two-time premiership-winning trainer’s team is headed by Kelinni, which is out to repay the faithful, having finished second as a $2.05 favourite last time around.

Kelinni will be joined by stablemate Shawnee Girl in the TAB Sportsbet, which is one of eight races that attracted a paltry total of 73 runners when acceptances were taken on Wednesday.

”A cross-over period,” Waller said shortly after winning another metropolitan-class race at Newcastle on Wednesday to go alongside the four he won on the opening day of the season at Canterbury last Saturday.

”A point where the winter horses are on the way out, or have been sent out, and the spring horses are on the way back. The spring horses may not be quite fit enough to run at this stage.

”Jade Marauder is a good example. She has had the one trial and is 90 per cent fit but she had 59 kilograms in the Rosebud at Warwick Farm and was up against the opposite sex.

”She will trial on Monday and head for the Princess series.”

Kelinni was beaten by stablemate Stout Hearted when resuming at Rosehill and then let favourite backers down when failing to beat Brave The Way, which has won subsequently.

”He is third-up and ready to run a strong 2200 metres,” Waller said.

”He may have been a little flat second-up but still finished second behind Brave The Way. He should be nearing his peak tomorrow.

”Shawnee Girl finished second to Brave The Way at Warwick Farm, so she won’t be far away.”

Waller has booked last season’s champion New Zealand apprentice Jason Collett for the ride on Thumbtacks in the Kari Aboriginal Resources. ”Thumbtacks is normally a Schofield horse, Glyn or Chad, but Chad had a ride for his boss, which didn’t accept, but we’d all ready booked Jason. It is Jason’s first ride back in Australia and punters should note he claims 1.5kg, not the 2kg published earlier in the week.”

Collett has already had a successful stint working under Waller and the trainer is confident the winning will continue. ”Jason is here to finish off his apprenticeship and establish his career,” Waller said.

”He is a good worker, very disciplined, and our team is going to help him out.”

What about Thumbtacks?

”The horse is in career-best form,” Waller replied while laughing. ”He improves five centimetres every time he goes to the races. He just keeps getting better and better, he is one of those types.”

In the opening event, Waller has ”the well-bred filly” Kristy Lee, another of the Ingham family’s horses.

”She ran really well first-up when fifth behind She’s A Fox, which is going to start favourite in the Rosebud,” Waller said. ”Kristy Lee hit the line, it was what we wanted to see and the step up to 1400m is perfect.”

Waller isn’t sure what to make of Ingham Magic in the Zoffany At Coolmore. The mare was a noticeable ring wobbler when resuming to beat two home at Rosehill on June 16. ”She needs to improve on Saturday,” Waller said. ”We’ve struggled to work her out, I’m not confident I’ve got her firing on all cylinders.”

Coup Ay Tee goes into The Bledisloe Cup Handicap having enjoyed a change of riding tactics when ridden back and running home to win at Rosehill on July 21.

”He did good job dropping back in distance last start,” Waller said.

”We’ve tried to keep everything the same to get a consistent pattern with his form. We intended to ride him in front of a couple last start but from the wide draw he got back to last. We’ll attempt to have a few behind us on Saturday from a good barrier draw.”

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Pride spoilt for speed as Title chases Missile

LOUISE NUTMAN has been there with Joe Pride since the beginning. The Hawkesbury vet owned the trainer’s first winner, Ireland, and his first city winner, Alanis, and has Title in Pride’s gun Warwick Farm stable.

The six-year-old has already returned more than $500,000 in stakes and is part of Pride’s trio of sprinters, along with high-profile pair Rain Affair and Tiger Tees, which will target the spring.

”He is a very underestimated horse. He has won three black-type races, all at double-figure odds,” said Pride of Title, which resumes in the Missile Stakes on his home track tomorrow. ”I think he is one of those horses that has sneaked up on people because he didn’t race as a two- and three-year-old and he sort of ambushed them when he won his first black type.

”He doesn’t have the boom on him like a Rain Affair, but he is a very, very good galloper. There is him, Rain Affair and Tigers Tees for the spring for me. It is just a shame they are all sprinters because they will probably have to clash at some time.”

Title is a little more advanced in his preparation than the other pair and comes from modest beginning. He was reared by Nutman ”in her backyard”. Pride’s initial view of him was far from positive.

”I saw him as a two-year-old and he was an ugly, skinny thing. I thought he had no chance,” Pride said. ”Louise is a realist and knew that, but he is like the ugly duckling and has developed into a real athlete.

”It has taken a bit of patience to get him there, but he made it.”

Pride gave credit to Nutman for her part in Title’s development.

”She is a real horseperson. These days you hear people say they bred this horse and all they really did is pick out the cross on paper,” he said. ”Louise bred Title. She took the mare up to the stallion and then bought her home and looked after her for 11 months.

”She pulled Title out of his mum and looked after him until he came to me. That is breeding a horse.”

It meant there was more responsibility for Pride to get it right once Title showed he was above average. He has been able to get nine wins from 24 starts with Title, which has also been placed six times. He got him to a group 1 last prep when, after winning the Maurice McCarten Stakes, he finished fourth in the Galaxy behind Temple Of Boom.

Pride has Title ready to fire first-up tomorrow. ”He has been set for this,” he said. ”I know his first-up record isn’t that good [one from five] but the key to him is the blinkers and he will have them on [in the Missile].

”The only other time he had them on first-up was the Lightning and he won that. His record with them on is very good … half of his wins have come with them on.”

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Adnocon put himself in feature dash, says Ryan

“He has freshened-up good, I wasn’t going to run him until the Show County in two weeks but he worked real good last Saturday and I started thinking about this race” … Gerald Ryan on his horse Adnocon.ROSEHILL horseman Gerald Ryan says prizemoney levels and conditions surrounding tomorrow’s Rosebud and other feature races need to be looked into. The $100,000 handicap attracted just six runners. ”You run in these races and you don’t get the BOBS bonus,” Ryan said. ”Australian Star was looking to win four in a row in town and I ran him in a benchmark race instead of the Winter Stakes. If he’d won the benchmark he would have picked up just over $68,000 with the BOBS, the Stakes he would have won $60,000. ”The Winter Stakes was also a listed race, if he’d run a place he would have got a weight penalty and he is only a restricted horse.” Ryan’s sprinter Adnocon will start in tomorrow’s Missile Stakes having returned from Queensland where the gelding picked up a win at Eagle Farm two runs ago. ”He has done well, looks well,” Ryan said. ”He has freshened-up good, I wasn’t going to run him until the Show County in two weeks but he worked real good last Saturday and I started thinking about this race. A small field but there still looks to be enough speed in it for him. He’ll get back and run home.”

Home advantage

Local trainer Gary Portelli has last-start winners Mickelberg and Butt I’m Ready running at Warwick Farm tomorrow. Mickelberg is in the Zoffany At Coolmore, while Butt I’m Ready runs in the last. ”Butt I’m Ready has won his last two and I’m hoping he has got his confidence back,” Portelli said. ”He has been helped by the wet tracks, it might be his time of year but he has shown to me he is interested in racing again. Mickelberg has done well since she won. The small field and home track advantage are positives and she’ll appreciate a dry track as well.” Both will be ridden by Brenton Avdulla. ”He is riding well for us at the moment, we’re having a bit of luck.”

Going places

The Bart Cummings-trained Norzita steamed home to win at Rosehill three weeks ago and is out to go back-to-back in town. The filly runs in the opening event at Warwick Farm tomorrow. ”She is a really green filly who only has upside,” said James Cummings, who is Bart’s grandson and Randwick foreman for the master. ”If she doesn’t find herself in one of the better fillies’ races this preparation it will be the next.” The Cummings-trained Dragonzone made it back-to-back wins when outstaying rivals at Newcastle on Wednesday and Cummings jnr warns his best is yet to come.

Back in grade

Michael Hawkes says the stable’s leading spring cups contenders Maluckyday and Niwot are now housed at Flemington, but the Rosehill operation remains home to Black Caviar’s half-brother All Too Hard. ”He is due to run in the San Domenico next weekend and Dwayne Dunn will ride,” said Hawkes, who trains alongside father John and brother Wayne, who runs the Flemington yard. At Warwick Farm tomorrow, Team Hawkes has Embark entered for the Zoffany At Coolmore after a seventh in the listed Winter Stakes, which followed a win at Rosehill. ”Her form had been ultra-consistent and we decided to give her a crack at a stakes race,” Hawkes said. ”At this stage she was a little out of her depth, so we decided to freshen her up and bring her back to 1200 metres. The small field suits and she gets in well with the [1.5kg] claim.”

Bledisloe bash

Anyone rocking up to Warwick Farm tomorrow in a Wallabies or All Blacks jumper gets in free. And the ATC’s racebook competition winner will take home a signed Wallabies jersey and be able to take three friends to the Bledisloe Cup clash at ANZ Stadium on August 18.

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