Cumani stayer ready to Hit the Derby

Michael Manley
·2-min read

Ballarat trainer Matt Cumani is a fan of the Victoria Derby and believes it should remain at 2500 metres and not be reduced in distance.

The annual debate regarding the Derby journey is again in play and Cumani regards the race as a test of a young horse's staying ability.

"If you don't think your horse is ready for it, you don't have to set it for that race," Cumani said.

On Saturday at Flemington, Cumani will be represented in the Victoria Derby by Hit The Shot, a horse he has aimed specifically at the classic.

But it is his other smart three-year-old Khoekhoe who is proof that Cumani is prepared to follow through on this beliefs.

Cumani pointed out that if Khoekhoe was in the Victoria Derby he had the form to be one of the favourites but he is comfortable with his decision not to pursue a start in the race.

Khoekhoe finished an unlucky second in the Moonee Valley Vase last Saturday to Derby second favourite Cherry Tortoni, but he's already been sent for a break.

"I didn't think he'd be ready for it this campaign," Cumani said.

"Next campaign I'll set him for the Autumn Classic at Caulfield and then take him to Sydney for the Rosehill Guineas and he could then run in the Australian Derby as he could be ready for it."

On the other hand, Cumani identified Hit The Shot as a horse with the capacity to run in a Derby this campaign and he'll take his place on Saturday.

Cumani said the son of Dundeel had enjoyed a faultless preparation and was ready for the trip.

Cumani's father Luca trained two English Derby winners and also prepared Melbourne Cup placegetters Purple Moon (2007), Bauer (2008) and Mount Athos (2013).

Hit The Shot will be Matt Cumani's third runner in the Victoria Derby after Greycliff, who finished 13th in 2017, and Sign Seal Deliver who finished 11th last year.

"This is a different horse to them. Having said that I think I've learned a lot from having them in the race," he said.

Cumani said the Victoria Derby was often a messy race so he was glad that Hit The Shot had drawn out and could stay out of trouble.

Hit The Shot will be ridden by Cumani's stable jockey Fred Kersley who like the trainer, is looking for his first Group One win.

The pair will also combine with Future Score in the Hotham Handicap in an attempt to win their way into the Melbourne Cup.

The stable already has San Huberto in the Cup field.

Cumani said he was disappointed with San Huberto's Geelong Cup run but felt the horse would be better suited over 3200 metres.

"I've been happy with his work. He wasn't suited by the tempo in the Geelong Cup. He's a dour stayer," Cumani said.