Hit The Shot (Image: Racing Photos)
Into just his fourth year as a trainer, Matt Cumani is a live chance with Hit The Shot to win the AAMI Victoria Derby as his first Group 1. And doesn't the Ballarat-based trainer know it.
"I've been a bit on edge," he conceded on Friday. "I've been trying to meditate I suppose to try and keep as calm as possible. I am usually a heavy sleeper, but the last few nights have been quite sleepless.
"It didn't help that we were following horses through the Tattersalls Sales ring overnight (in England) but every spare moment you are thinking about how the AAMI Victoria Derby might unfold as well."
Being the son of former famous Newmarket trainer Luca, Cumani was raised on a diet that the Epsom Derby was the supreme race of them all and he sees the AAMI Victoria Derby in a similar light. So, to be this close to winning one so soon in his career, is a nerve-wracking thought.
"For it to be an AAMI Victoria Derby as well with a race with such a history to it not only here but in the UK where for the most of my childhood it was the No. 1 race everyone was trying to win, it would be massive," he added.
"I never expected really to have such a live chance in a big Group 1 so soon.
"It would be huge for all of us. It would be great for the team because they do so much work but also for the jockey (Fred Kersley) and the owners to win our first Group 1."
Hit The Shot carries a good formline into the race via the son of Dundeel's fast-finishing third in the 2000-metre Caulfield Classic.
"I think he's a great chance," Cumani enthused.
"I am trying not to be too overconfident, but I think he really fits in this race well. He looks like he's been looking for this distance for some time.
"He's got a great constitution and has a great character and he's handled every single race brilliantly."