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G1 test for Pohutukawa as two-year-olds progress on Golden Slipper trail at Randwick

Mike Hedge

The Godolphin filly Pohutukawa will be put to the most serious test of her career when she tackles a strong field of three-year-old fillies in Saturday’s G1 Surround Stakes at Randwick.

Pohutukawa (James McDonald) already has black-type against her name through her victory in the Listed Desirable Stakes at Flemington last November and her only run since indicated she had returned to training in good order.

According to trainer James Cummings, the three-year-old will need to be near her best to figure here.

“So many of the fillies in this race are on the way up and capable of making quick improvement,” Cummings said.

“We might not appreciate yet how good some of these fillies are, and at set weights these are the very good females of the future.”

Pohutukawa resumed two weeks ago with a third placing in the Light Fingers Stakes at Randwick and Cummings is expecting improvement from the daughter of Medaglia d’Oro.

“She’s capable of going fresh ahead as a lightly-raced young horse with scope,” he said.

“She won nicely second-up over 1400m last preparation in a Listed race at Flemington and we’d be pleased to see her repeat that run.”

The G1 Golden Slipper Stakes credentials of a quartet of Godolphin’s band of two-year-old winners will undergo further examination at Randwick on Saturday in the G2 Sweet Embrace Stakes and the G2 Skyline Stakes.

In the Sweet Embrace it is the fillies Amercement (Brenton Avdulla) and Kiamichi (James McDonald) who will be out to impress, while the last-start winners Bivouac (Glyn Schofield) and Microphone (James McDonald) run in the Skyline, with their trainer James Cummings expecting all four to run well.

“Amercement has continued to train on nicely since her narrow win in the Widden Stakes first-up on a soft track last month,” Cummings said.

“We expect her to be more comfortable up to six furlongs here and she’s a happy filly going into this assignment.

“Kiamichi is a strong filly who returned two solid efforts at the end of last year, she might be a little underrated at this stage.

In the colts’ division, Bivouac has the opportunity to add to his already impressive record in the G2 Skyline Stakes, a race Cummings regards more as a G1 Sires’ Produce trial than a Golden Slipper lead-up.

“Bivouac’s win was over 1100m at his home track, but he’s no stranger to Randwick and he should enjoy stepping up to 1200m here in a race that is looking like a Sires Produce Stakes in disguise.”

All three of Microphone’s runs have been in Melbourne where he has won twice over the Flemington straight course.

“Microphone has slipped straight back into his Warwick Farm routine after three runs in Melbourne,” Cummings said.

“He didn’t win in the Melbourne direction, only down the straight, so I’m happy that he’ll be at home back in Sydney.”

The A$3.5m Golden Slipper will be run at Rosehill on Saturday, 23 March.