In the realms of Fantasy

Oct 09, 2016

IT’S arguably the training performance of the season. Thunder Fantasy will head to Melbourne after his stunning comeback win at Randwick on Saturday.

Trainer Anthony Cummings pulled off the seemingly impossible by bringing Thunder Fantasy out of an injury-enforced retirement in Hong Kong to a first-up win at Randwick under 63kg after almost 18 months.

Now Cummings is eyeing a Group 1 with the six-year-old, a $41 chance who blew punters out of the water with his stunning comeback win.

“It’s pretty special,’’ he said. “He’s a high-quality horse and it really was just a matter of getting him right. It’s a huge feather in the stable’s cap to get a horse back from Hong Kong and see him do as well as he’s done.’’

As a three-year-old under Cummings, Thunder Fantasy was placed in a Victoria Derby, an Australian Guineas and was runner-up to Criterion in the 2014 Rosehill Guineas.

He won two of seven starts in Hong Kong, where he was trained by John Size, but a tendon issue brought his career to a halt and he was retired.

When he returned to Australia, Cummings decided to give him a second shot and after satisfying stewards he was right to race he was put back in work this year.

“He had a pretty successful season or thereabouts and he developed some issues they couldn’t deal with and they elected to retire him,’’ Cummings said.

“That was all fair and reasonable, there’s no issue about that.

“He had a couple of dumb things go wrong when he came back and he wasn’t quite right. We brought him back with the idea of having a shot at the spring.’’

Cummings did nominate Thunder Fantasy for the Cox Plate but ran out of time to have him in shape, hence only resuming in the #theraces October Handicap (1400m). With the 63kg on his back, most thought he would be outsprinted but he showed his class to run out a half-length winner from His Majesty ($4.80) and the early leader Religify ($7.50) was third.

Next stop for Thunder Fantasy will be the Group 1 Longines Mile (1600m) at Flemington on Derby day. “He’s up to that standard,’’ Cummings said. “He was Group 1-placed at a mile and 2000m, that’s the right recipe and he just has to be right.

“I was rapt with him, the thing with him is if he’s there and on his game he puts himself in the right spot. Two steps out of the gates and he was going to win.’’

Jockey Tye Angland said the weight was always a concern but once he landed in a midfield position with cover he settled perfectly.

Still, Angland said it was an amazing performance. “He had the perfect run to suit the weight he was carrying but to see him wind up and run those sectionals late, it was a top effort,’’ he said.

Ray Hickson Daily Telegraph