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Epsom ideal target for in-form Pericles

Dave Murray

James Cummings declared Pericles a more confident and mature galloper who is on track to claim his first G1 in the Epsom Handicap next month.

The Godolphin Australia head trainer couldn’t hide his delight after Pericles led all the way to win the G2 Tramway Stakes over 1,400m at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 2 September.

A first-up winner after travelling in fourth spot at Rosehill Gardens over the same distance three weeks earlier, Pericles this time was taken straight to the front by champion apprentice Zac Lloyd.

The four-year-old Street Boss (US) gelding dictated the speed before sprinting home in a slick 33.91 seconds for his final 600m on a track rated a Soft 5.

Skyman couldn’t match the winner and finished second, just ahead of Hope In Your Heart.

Pericles won the G2 Autumn Classic at Sandown in February and was considered a top ATC Derby hope but failed to stay as a three-year-old.

Cummings said the gelding had been galloping brilliantly in training and would possibly target the 7 Stakes over 1,600m at Randwick in two weeks on his way to the Epsom.

“Pericles has come back in faultless fashion this prep, two out of two, and he’s enjoying himself,” the trainer said.

“I can’t gallop him at home with any horse who is going better than Pericles.

“He’s still growing, getting better and more confident.

“It’s been good signs this campaign and he’s justifying it on the track.”

Cummings will decide later if Pericles misses the 7 Stakes and goes straight to the Epsom.

“We can pick our mark with Pericles, he’s back as a four-year-old a more mature horse,” he said.

“Full credit to Zac, he got the horse into a beautiful rhythm from the barrier.”

The young apprentice, who rode a winning double on the day after steering Tiz Invincible to victory in the G2 Darley Furious Stakes, the second leg of the rich Darley Princess Series for three-year-old fillies, is also maturing quickly and showing great judgment of pace.

“He played with that field, he honestly felt to me like he ate it up,” Lloyd said Pericles.

“Once he got to the front and relaxed it was game over and he quickened very sharply.”

Lloyd earlier rode rising stable star In Secret to a fast-finishing second in the G3 Concorde Stakes, narrowly beaten by Remarque at her first run this preparation.

The dual G1 winner has been set for The Everest over 1,200m at Randwick on 14 October.

“Fantastic, her Everest trial today was outstanding,” Cummings said.

“She nearly got up and won the Concorde and she’s not a five-furlong horse.

“Meeting Remarque 4.5kg worse at the weights and going down by about a neck is outstanding, and she’s some of the fresh blood coming through.

“I like the look of The Shorts in a fortnight and we’ll formulate a plan from there.

“We are building a very good foundation with In Secret and, fingers crossed, everything remains as faultless as it’s been.”