Life is a highway: Samantha Clenton pilots Bulls ‘n’ Bears to victory in last week’s instalment of the Highway Handicap series at Randwick. Photo: bradleyphotos上海龙凤论坛m.auWizard of Odds: Live Odds, Form and Alerts for all Racing Follow our Derby Day tips to find a winner
Perhaps the best advertisement for a young trainer is to take on a problematic horse and show you can get results with them. Steven Cummins could not have asked for a better start.
Lion Of Africa was the first horse in his stable when stewards stamped his training papers and he didn’t end up making it to the racetrack until he was a five-year-old.
“When I picked him up he had sesamoiditis so he was turned out to the paddock for 12 months when we got him and it was just a matter of nursing him back,” the Moruya-based Cummins said. “But he’s as good as gold now and he’s had a couple of small injuries in the paddock.
“He went through a couple of fences twice. It was just a matter of nursing him and getting him through, but he’s good and solid now.”
The results tend to suggest that. Lion Of Africa has been racing for less than a year, but has already been placed seven times from just 12 starts, including a first-up win at Nowra this campaign.
It was enough to convince the former John Marzol pupil, whose partner also works as a vet down on the South Coast helping tend to the team of six, to bring Lion Of Africa to Rosehill to become his first metropolitan runner in the Highway Handicap on Saturday.
“He’s definitely taught me a lot,” Cummins said. “For the right horses I would take more on, but you’ve just got to find the right ones.
“Short-term I’m just aiming at these races in the next six to eight weeks and we’ll see how he measures up. Last prep he was getting to the front early and not putting them away, but [apprentice] Josh [Cartwright] rode him that little bit quieter the other day and his work between the 300 and the 100 was really good.
“He coasted to the line a little bit and he needs to keep stepping up, but if he does we’ll reassess down the line.”
Cartwright will again have his work cut out from barrier 14 in the Highway Handicap, where Greg Bennett’s Invienna, a runner-up in the inaugural staging of the race, will launch from barrier six.
“Josh is a good rider and he’s in good form,” Cummins said. “He knows the horse well and I spoke to him earlier [on Wednesday] and I said, ‘I don’t mind where we possie up, just make sure we’ve got cover’. The horse needs further anyway and if I’m two or three off the fence it’s not going to affect him.”
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