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G1 challenge confronts Osborne Bulls at Flemington

Mike Hedge

The return to racing of brilliant sprinter Osborne Bulls in Saturday’s G1 Lightning Stakes at Flemington is being treated cautiously by trainer James Cummings.

But whatever the result, the gelding who rose to every challenge in the spring is shaping as a key sprinter in an autumn in which Godolphin looks to have plenty of bases covered by the likes of Alizee, Best Of Days, Avilius and Kementari

Osborne Bulls (Craig Williams) begins his latest preparation with a record of nine wins and four placings from his 14 starts.

The son of Street Cry went for a break after his victory in the G3 Linlithgow Stakes down the Flemington straight track in November, an experience Cummings hopes will benefit him on Saturday when he tackles 1,000m for the first time.

“He tackles the five furlongs for the first time at weight-for-age and at G1 level, so it’s a very interesting test, even for such a talented young sprinter,” Cummings said.

“We’re hoping that his one-from-one record down the straight will be an advantage.”

As significant as his two spring wins were Osborne Bulls’ third placing in the $13 million Everest at Randwick in which he beat home some well-credentialled sprinters was his highlight.

“He showed the potential of a good sprinter in The Everest, so we’re looking forward to this campaign,” he said.

Cummings is also looking for a forward showing from Ranier (Craig Williams) who runs in the G3 CS Hayes Stakes after finishing out of the placings last start for the first time in his career.

“He was half a run short which told on him when he was caught wide at Caulfield,” Cummings said.

“While he’s capable of improving again on what he does here, there’s still pressure on him to be competitive on Saturday.”

The Flemington Stakes-race line-up is completed by Microphone (James McDonald) who is looking for his second straight-track win, and Lanigera (Mark Zahra) in the Listed Talindert Stakes. 

After scoring a debut win at Flemington last month, Microphone chased hard when second to I Am Immortal at Caulfield at his only other appearance. 

“He’ll enjoy getting back to the straight track here. His form is quite strong and he looks well-suited,” Cummings said.

“He’s still improving, he’s thrived between runs and is capable of going ahead on his Blue Diamond Preview form.”

The speedy Lanigera has been prominent in his two runs to date and Cummings is excepting another forward showing.

“He’s been in good shape since his last run at Caulfield and he has valuable straight-track experience from trials at Flemington last year,” he said.