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Kementari races back to form in G3 Scahill Stakes

Mike Hedge

With the perfect timing of a very good horse, Kementari regained his hero status in Godolphin’s Australian stable on Saturday with victory in the G3 AJ Scahill Stakes at Ascot, Western Australia.

In what is likely to be his final start, Kementari put two years of disappointment and frustration behind him, producing a performance that had seemed beyond him to win his first race since the G1 Randwick Guineas in March, 2018.

Further G1 placings followed in his next two campaigns, but no wins, and he was retired to stud to stand alongside his father Lonhro for the 2019 breeding season, only to be found to be infertile.

Kementari was duly gelded and his trainer James Cummings welcomed him back to the stable early this year, but while showing glimspes of promise, he performed indifferently in nine starts before Saturday.

For Kementari, the win means he can now retire with dignity and for Cummings and his team, it is justification for their faith and skill.

And credit is also due to the native wildlife roaming around the WA countryside and the imagination and resourcefulness of Cummings long-time travelling foreman Nacim Dilmi who was moved to tears as he attempted to explain the significance of the Kementari’s victory.

“We’ve tried so many different things with him to try and get him to show what we believed he was capable of that we don’t know which one worked,” Dilmi said.

In the week leading up to the race, Dilmi took Kementari on daytrips around Perth.

“On Monday we took him away for a change of scenery and he had a look at some emus and kangaroos,” Dilmi said.

“On Tuesday we went from Ascot to Belmont for a gallop and today, rather than walk him from his stable to the races, we put him in the float and drove around for half-an-hour.”

Jockey Chris Parnham produced a ride that perfectly suited the occasion, taking Kementari back from his wide gate and putting him into the race at precisely the right time.

“He’s a beautiful horse, he feels like silk when you’re riding him,” Parnham said.

Kementari loomed into the race at the 400m and with Parnham calling for the supreme effort at the 200m at which point they put two lengths on their rivals.

It was left to Celebrity Queen to issue the only challenge, but she failed by a length, with Dance Music further back in third place.

An official announcement is still to be made on Kementari’s future, but today’s race was certainly the last of his current preparation and almost certainly his final racetrack appearance.

And in a private acknowledgment of his winning effort, his portrait which had been relegated from the wall at Godolphin’s Warwick Farm headquarters will be returned to its rightful place.