Classic ambitions for Kementari and Astoria

Mike Hedge

Two of Godolphin’s best Australian three-year-olds make highly anticipated starts to what is hoped will be classic, autumn campaigns in Sydney and Melbourne on Saturday, 10 February.

Kementari (Glyn Schofield), who just failed when second in the G1 Caulfield Guineas last October, makes his return in the G3 Eskimo Prince Handicap at Warwick Farm.

One of the more promising members of the stable in the spring, Kementari has trialled well since coming back into training and trainer James Cummings is looking forward to him resuming his quest for a major victory.

“Under the conditions of the race, he’s the best-weighted horse in it,” Cummings said.

“He’s shown that he gets better as he gets deeper into his preparation, but I think he can run a really cheeky race.”

The son of Lonhro meets a handy field of three-year-olds on Saturday with strong opposition expected from Seige Of Quebec, a winner of three of his only four starts and Brave Song who has had a month off since winning his third race at Randwick on Saturday, 30 December.

Kementari is likely to have the G1 Randwick Guineas in Sydney next month as his main autumn target.

Astoria (Kerrin McEvoy), who runs in Saturday’s G2 Autumn Stakes at Caulfield, revealed himself last spring as a colt with the potential to match his pedigree, winning the G3 Spring Stakes at Newcastle and finishing the campaign with a third placing in the G1 Victoria Derby.

“He’s more forward than I had him for his first-up run last preparation,” Cummings said.

“This is a really strong race, but I’m looking at it as being a very good guide,” Cummings said.

Astoria, a son of Medaglia d’Oro, is closely related to the outstanding producer Eight Carat whose offspring include the Champion Octagonal and the G1 winners Tristalove, Don Eduardo and Viscount.

He will be nominated for the G1 Australian Guineas at Flemington later this month and the G1 ATC Derby at Randwick in April.

The weekend’s Stakes-race contingent is completed by Fragonard (Damian Lane) who is looking for her first Graded win in the G3 Bellmaine Stakes.

The daughter of New Approach last raced in August when she won a restricted fillies and mares race at Moonee Valley.

Before that Fragonard had been a model of consistency and although meeting a strong field of fillies here, she has her chance to earn Black Type.