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Home track hero Prized Icon will attempt to repel a strong interstate and overseas invasion in Saturday’s $2 million BMW Australian Derby (2400m) on Day 1 of The Championships at Royal Randwick.
The colt is one of only two Sydney representatives among the top seven in the TAB fixed odds market for the Group 1 event, alongside the Team Hawkes-trained Inference ($4.60).
Prized Icon sits on the fifth line of betting at $11, with Victorian three-year-olds Anaheim ($8), So Si Bon ($11) and Hardham ($15) joining Kiwis, Gingernuts ($3.60 favourite) and Jon Snow ($6) near the top of the betting.
The James Cummings-prepared youngster is a dual Group 1 winner, having taken out the Champagne Stakes at Randwick as a two-year-old and the Victoria Derby last spring at Flemington.
After flopping in the Rosehill Guineas behind Gingernuts, Prized Icon then finished well for second to Jon Snow in the Group 2 Tulloch Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens last Saturday.
“It was good to see him bounce back to form,” Cummings said.
“He needs a few runs to reach his peak and I’ve kept a bit up my sleeve, but I would need to.
“He was good as a spring three-year-old but he needs to now be the ‘improved version’ as he will be taking on two powerful New Zealand stayers (Gingernuts and Jon Snow).
“I feel he will back up well and is a horse that only needs two things – light exercise and racing; he just loves to race.
“It should be a wonderful Derby with the good Kiwi horses plus other horses on the fringe such as the Victorians Anaheim and So Si Bon.
“We just want some good weather now.”
Cummings had entered Rock and Swing for the Derby but will now look at the $150,000 Frank Packer Plate (2000m) at Randwick on April 15.
“We have a lot of time for him. We were tempted to go for the Derby but he’s a work in progress and is probably six months away.
“It’s a bit soon and we would be asking a bit too much of him. We’ll happily slot a path after that race.”
Impressive last start, Newcastle winner Whispered Secret was entered for the $1 million Inglis Sires’ but Cummings decided to head to the Fernhill Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on April 8.
“We thought about throwing her in the deep end (Sires) but will take our time with her and run the filly in the Fernhill.
“She will run a mile sweetly,” Cummings said.
“She has only had three runs as a two-year-old and last time defeated the older horses at Newcastle.
“She should turn out a nice spring three-year-old.”
Villa Carlotta who failed on the heavy surface last Saturday is heading to the spelling paddock.
“She didn’t enjoy the heavy track at all but we have a lot of time for her and the spell will do her the world of good,” he said.
‘Grey flash’ Chautauqua has been installed the $4.60 favourite for one of the other highlights on Day 1 of The Championships, the $2.5m Darley TJ Smith Stakes (1200m).
The gelding ran a brave third to champion mare Winx in last Saturday week’s George Ryder Stakes and will be aiming for his third successive win in this event.
- This preview of The Championships is brought to you by Racing NSW. Mark Brassel writes for Racing NSW Magazine, racingnsw.com.au and thechampionships.com.au