VRC Sprint Classic contender Kementari (Image: Bradley Photos)
Luck can be a hard horse to catch, but despite his wildly fluctuating fortunes over the most important week of racing in this country, trainer James Cummings' faith remains steadfast as he looks towards final day at Flemington.
Just last Saturday, Cummings was the toast of Flemington when he prepared a treble of winners, including the Group 1 Kennedy Mile with Best Of Days.
But three days later his luck turned on its head when his best-ever chance to win a Lexus Melbourne Cup, Avilius, was knocked out of the biggest race of them all before finishing 22nd, nearly 70 lengths behind Cross Counter.
On Saturday, Cummings puts his luck to the test again when he puts the saddle on one of the spring's most unfortunate horses, Kementari, in the G1 VRC Sprint Classic.
Kementari is winless this spring but could well have won the G1 Memsie Stakes in September at Caulfield but for a wide run and then last start another wide draw meant he was in for a similar troublesome run before being beaten less than a length in the G1 Manikato Stakes.
The son of Lonhro is seen as a prized stallion in waiting for Godolphin so the Randwick Guineas winner of last season needs one of these spring G1s to stick. Cummings does not hide his respect for Kementari's ability and he again backed it in on the eve of the $1 million straight-track sprint.
"He's a beautiful colt and he's got a ripping finish," Cummings said on Friday. "I really see him as one of the horses capable of winning this race but it's a race full of depth too and he's going to have to be at his best to beat these horses."
Cummings said it was easy to hide behind poor luck, but he said it was time that Kementari made his own way in a race rather than be dictated to by misfortune.
"We need to see him make some of his own luck and we need to see him get up and win of one of these Group 1s like he did in the Randwick Guineas when he just looked fantastic that day," Cummings said.
"I don't think we need to over-complicate these things. Glyn Schofield has got to use his judgement and he knows the horse back to front.
"The pace of the race is instrumental. He's (Schofield) got to get the feeling in his hands with the horse and if he's able to let him loose at the right time, then he has the turn of foot to win a race like this.
"He's deep into his preparation, but he's thriving and a win here would completely forgive him for a campaign that hasn't gone his way."
Cummings is also keen to hasten the development of another young sprinter/miler in the form of three-year-old Wagner, who contests the listed Springtime Stakes over 1400m at Flemington.
"After battling away over 1200 metres last time, he should be well-suited by the 1400 metres here," he said.
"He has the potential and I'd like to see him running on strongly."
Cummings's Flemington Carnival closes with the run of It's Somewhat in the $2 million G1 Mackinnon Stakes and despite the presence of the hot favourite Blair House, who is trained for Godolphin by Charlie Appleby, Cummings expects the 2017 Doncaster Handicap winner to find his best form.
"He looks a picture of health and is very fit," the trainer warned.
"His work has been improving all the time and I think we can expect to see him show the form he's capable of.
"I'd like to think that this will be the best performance of his preparation."