Bart Cummings to saddle up once more

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At 85 years young, legendary Bart Cummings will be chasing his 13th Melbourne Cup in a spring carnival which wouldn’t be the same without him. Let’s take a look at the Cummings’ best Melbourne Cup hopes.

A succession plan has commenced in the Cummings yard to ensure the family name will continue on well beyond when Bart gives up the caper. This season, Cummings’ training licences will be shared with grandson James and their horses officially listed in training under J.A Cummings and J.B Cummings.

In James’ first week as an officially licensed trainer, the 25-year-old scored his first Stakes win when Eurozone produced a dominant performance to win The Rosebud (1200m) at Randwick.

While Eurozone looks to be the best horse in the Cummings stable at the moment, it wouldn’t be a spring carnival without a few Cummings’ horses aimed at spring majors, ultimately the Melbourne Cup.

If Cummings is to claim his 13th Melbourne Cup, he’ll need to do it with an outsider because he currently does not feature near the top of any of the betting markets. Of course, we can never rule out the master after he claimed his 12th Cup when Viewed won in 2008 at long odds.

Here are the leading chances from the Cummings stable:

Norzita

Already a two-time Group 1 winner, Norzita is part of the illustrious crop of three-year-olds from last season.

The four-year-old mare was one of the most impressive in the autumn when she ran third in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic and won the Group 1 Storm Queen Stakes before running third in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile.

With earnings just shy of $1 million, her rating will see her make the Melbourne Cup field if the Cummings boys wish.

She is nominated for the Cox Plate where she will be one of the big chances. In 2010, So You Think was primed solely for the Cox Plate until impressive performances in the Cox Plate and Mackinnon Stakes saw So You Think as a late acceptor for the Melbourne Cup.

Norzita could very well go down the same path but her breeding suggests the distance could be a concern.

Commission

Never heard of this horse? You’re not alone.

This five-year-old Zabeel gelding has had just four career starts and only broke his maiden in his third. He followed that up with another victory at Kembla Grange and has not raced since.

He has been nominated for the Caulfield Cup so Cummings knows something that no one else does. With his rating, he will struggle to get a start in any race at Caulfield, let along the Caulfield Cup.

But with Bart, stranger things have happened. Commission is well bred and hasn’t raced for so long; he could enter the season a whole new horse.

It is extremely rare a horse can go from a maiden to a Caulfield or Melbourne Cup in the space of a few races but seeing him nominated for the Caulfield Cup makes us wonder.

Lunar Rise

Lunar Rise has not been nominated for either the Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate but he’s the type of horse capable of qualifying for the Melbourne Cup.

As a three-year-old, he won the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes, ran second in the Group 2 Sandown Guineas, third in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes and fourth in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes.

He’s good enough to compete in open handicap staying races. His autumn campaign was not as impressive as his spring campaign but that is not uncommon amongst Cummings horses.

Lunar Rise is the progressive type who will continue to increase his rating throughout the spring but a Melbourne Cup start is more likely next year.

The latest 2014 Melbourne Cup news, field details and information can be found here.
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