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Athiri on target for Blue Diamond tilt

james cummings
Godolphin trainer James Cummings is looking to Athiri for his first 2yo G1 win in the Blue Diamond.

The James Cummings-trained Godolphin juveniles have been on a roll this season and Athiri is poised to deliver the stable victory in Australia’s first Group One two-year-old race of the year, the Blue Diamond Stakes.

Already during 2018/19 Cummings-trained two-year-olds have won 13 races, including Exhilarates in the $2 million Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast in January.

Other juvenile winners include Tassort who makes his highly anticipated return in Saturday’s Silver Slipper in Sydney on a path to next month’s $3.5 million Golden Slipper for which he is favourite.

Athiri also won on debut in Sydney at the beginning of December before she was targeted at Saturday’s $1.5 million Blue Diamond (1200m) at Caulfield.

“I think it made sense that she wasn’t quite as impressive as Tassort when she debuted, so it was a nice target race as a Group One that she looked capable of having the class to be competitive in,” Cummings said.

“And on account of that we spelled her and we geared her up with the Blue Diamond in mind.

“She’s had a good preparation and she arrives here second-up which was our plan.”

Cummings is yet to win a Group One for two-year-olds since joining the Godolphin team as its Australian head trainer in 2017.

Athiri had her second start in the Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) for fillies two weeks ago and finished third to another Godolphin-owned filly, Lyre, after sitting three wide on the pace.

Cummings described that run as “enormous” and is convinced Athiri has taken benefit from it for the Blue Diamond in which she will begin from the second outside barrier.

“It looks like she’s edged forward in her training and looks nicely conditioned to be running a very strong six furlongs,” he said.

“She’s got the experience of sitting wide at Caulfield and she’s not looking like being a victim of circumstance and being disappointed for a run.

“She can make her own luck. With that race day experience at Caulfield and now for the first time being able to be raced second-up, I think she’s going to be a really excellent chance.”

Cummings said he would discuss tactics from the wide draw with champion Melbourne jockey Craig Williams but believes Athiri has shown versatility.

Athiri was on the third line of betting at $8.50 on race eve with the Anthony Freedman-trained Lyre, who won the fillies Prelude last start, the $6 favourite.

Lyre is one of six Australian Godolphin horses, all juveniles, not trained by Cummings.

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