James Cummings and Gai Waterhouse will lock horns again on Saturday when their fancied runners contest the Victoria Derby. Picture: Alice Laidlaw /Racing Photos
James Cummings and Gai Waterhouse will lock horns again on Saturday when their fancied runners contest the Victoria Derby. Picture: Alice Laidlaw /Racing Photos

Racing royalty battle for Derby honours

THE Victoria Derby holds a rich family tradition for the Cummings and Waterhouse clan.

James Cummings, who has the highly rated Aramayo in the $2 million classic at Flemington on Saturday, is a fourth-generation trainer from his famous family to have won the big race.

Cummings prepared Prized Icon to win the Victoria Derby two years ago, emulating his father, Anthony, who won with Fiveandahalfstar (2012), his grandfather Bart, a five-time Victoria Derby winner with Dayana (1972), Taj Rossi (1973), Stormy Rex (1977), Bounty Hawk (1983) and Omnicorp (1987), and great-grandfather Jim, who prepared Comic Court (1948).

Gai Waterhouse has race favourite Thinkin' Big in Saturday's Victoria Derby.

She trained the colt's maternal grandsire, Nothin' Leica Dane, to win the Flemington classic in 1995 and is still the only woman to have trained the Derby winner.

She also emulated her father, Tommy Smith, who prepared the five Derby winners: Tulloch (1957), Travel Boy (1959, Silver Sharpe (1970), Brewery Boy (1981) and (Red Anchor (1984).

Aramayo has met Thinkin' Big once previously and beat the Waterhouse colt home by more than two lengths when he ran second to Maid Of Heaven in the Spring Champion Stakes.

Cummings gained some confidence from that clash and believes getting out to 2500m will suit Aramayo.

"There is absolutely no need to be worried about it (2500m) with this horse at this point in time,'' Cummings told Melbourne radio on Friday.

"More important than that, this horse has shown that with every run I've stepped him up in distance, he's improved.

"He went to another level up to the 2000m of the Spring Champion Stakes and that's the best Sydney trial for the Derby every year. He's got the form lines through that. I think it sets up really well for him to run a big race.''

Jockey Tye Angland, who has ridden Aramayo in his last three starts, including his third in the Vase at Moonee Valley last week, also knows what is required to win the Victoria Derby having ridden Ace High to victory 12 months ago.

Aramayo has improved with every run this campaign. Picture: Getty Images
Aramayo has improved with every run this campaign. Picture: Getty Images

"Aramayo came through the Vase in really good fashion,'' Cummings said. "I've been over the moon with the horse. He's had the right grounding to be confident and he's got every chance of running it right out.''

But Cummings conceded Thinkin' Big, trained in partnership by Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, is the horse to beat.

"That horse (Thinkin' Big) is extremely impressive,'' Cummings said.

"He goes forward and makes his own luck. I think he is a beautiful horse and I'd be delighted if we can beat him again."

Thinkin’ Big is the horse to beat in the Victoria Derby. Picture: Jay Town
Thinkin’ Big is the horse to beat in the Victoria Derby. Picture: Jay Town

Aramayo could give Godolphin owner Sheikh Mohammed his first Victoria Derby after a number of near misses in recent years.

"We were third in the race last year (with Astoria) and there's been a number of placegetters for Godolphin and it would be great to see the Godolphin colours win a (Victoria) Derby in Australia, especially after winning the Epsom Derby with Masar in the UK,'' Cummings said.



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