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Paulele seals stallion spot with Winterbottom Stakes victory

Dave Murray

James Cummings refused to give up on stallion prospect Paulele winning a G1 this spring and the sprinter with the movie-star looks rewarded that faith when he came from last on Saturday, 26 November to capture the A$1.5 million Winterbottom Stakes at Ascot in Perth, Australia.

In giving Godolphin head trainer the 36th G1 of his relatively short career, Paulele mowed down Kissonallforcheeks in the shadows of the post.

This’lltestya speared through on the fence to grab third place as the winner clocked a fast 1 minute 9.45 seconds for the 1,200m after spotting the leaders up to 10 lengths head start at halfway.

Cummings had decided to send Paulele to Melbourne and ignore a possible tilt at the A$15 million The Everest at Royal Randwick last month.

Although the four-year-old won the G2 Schillaci Stakes at Caulfield, Paulele failed to place in the G1 Moir Stakes and G1 Manikato Stakes at Moonee Valley before overracing in blinkers when 11th in the G1 VRC Classic at Flemington.

A trip west, a change of routine and racing pattern, and removing the shades worked wonders as jockey Ben Melham brought Paulele with a devastating sprint from last to seal the stallion’s future spot on the Darley sires’ roster.

“It was such a scintillating performance,” Cummings said.

“He let go like a jet, I’m so proud of him, so pleased.

“He’s got that G1 we so desperately wanted to get with him.

“We took him over with a bit of courage and we’ve been rewarded.

“He’s just earned his ticket onto the roster and now he becomes a 10- or 20-year (stallion) project.”

Cummings was disappointed he had to scratch stablemate Vilana from the Winterbottom on the morning of the race.

The Hunter winner grazed a leg at the stables but should be back to contest the rich Gold Rush (1,400m) at Ascot in a fortnight.

“The vets who have seen him expect him to be fine with some minor treatment that wasn’t available to us so close to the race,” Cummings said.

“It was just an unfortunate stable incident that led to an abrasion on his leg and the horse has got to come first.

“It was the right thing to do to withdraw him but he would have run a helluva race.

“But that’s all right, we erred on the side of caution and I’m glad we did as it was sweet vindication for his stablemate to get up and win in style."

Paulele, who improved his record to eight wins and six placings from 21 starts for prize money on A$2.4 million, provided Melham with the 18th G1 of his career.

The Melbourne-based rider always believed his mount had winning credentials despite drawing barrier 15.

“The stable are so good at travelling them all the way to Perth, he drew awkward but James and I spoke this morning and we were happy to ride him quiet,” Melham said.

“There was nice speed, he got into a lovely rhythm and really hit the line.

“The other day (Flemington) he was forward with the blinkers on, but never comfortable in a good race.

“I knew I was going to be strong to the line because I’d had such an economical run and he was able to get over them late.

“I was confident he would run well today and it’s good to be proven right.”

Earlier in the day at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney, Zethus returned to his best form in the Listed Starlight Stakes over 1,100m.

After crossing from a wide gate to sit outside Sneaky Paige, jockey Tim Clark asked Zethus (Exceed And Excel) to extend and the four-year-old raced to the front before holding off Sky Command and Fox Fighter in a slick 1 minute 2.91 seconds.

“He was very gusty by that horse,” Cummings added.

“He was nicely in at the handicaps and his prep might not be done with yet.

“He’s only had four runs this prep so I still hold some hope he might be able to qualify for the rich Magic Millions race series.

“He’s going so well he might be able to well and truly press on compete to qualify for that series.”

The win was Zethus’s third from 11 starts and his second Black-Type victory, coming 22 months after beating subsequent G1 winner Home Affairs in the G3 Canonbury Stakes at Rosehill.

The son of super stallion Exceed And Excel took his prize-money earnings to $332,000 and provided his sire with his 374th Stakes-race success.