Zac Lloyd to ride Honeycreeper in the $1m The Gong at Kembla

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Trainer James Cummings has entrusted boom apprentice Zac Lloyd with the ride on Honeycreeper as the Godolphin stable chase more big-race success in the $1 million The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange on Saturday.

Cummings, who prepared another feature race winner with Perth summer carnival-bound Vilana in The Hunter at Newcastle last Saturday, said he had no hesitation booking Lloyd for Honeycreeper even though apprentices can’t claim in The Gong.

“Honeycreeper needs to get through her training this week and then we will decide if we accept but at this stage the plan is to run her at Kembla on Saturday,” Cummings said.

“We have even booked a rider for Honeycreeper in The Gong – we have a young ‘gun’ called Zac Lloyd riding the mare.

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“Zac has been deadly with his 3kg claim lately and we are happy for him to ride Honeycreeper even though he can’t claim in The Gong.”

Honeycreeper is the only Godolphin entry in The Gong which has attracted 33 nominations including Old Flame, Brutality, Hope In Your Heart, Promise Of Success, Kolding, Rustic Steel, Surf Dancer, Kirwan’s Lane, Steely, Atishu, Berdibek, Polly Grey, Oscar Zulu, Just Folk, Riodini and Purple Sector.

The Gong’s quality entries mean Honeycreeper is no certainty to gain a start but Cummings believes his mare is ready to run a competitive race if she squeezes into the final field of 16 (plus four emergencies).

Honeycreeper has had four runs back this spring including her close second to Hope In Your Heart in the Group 3 Angst Stakes and a last start fourth to Atishu in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes.

“I thought Honeycreeper ran well in the Matriarch and she was probably unlucky not to beat Hope In Your Heart,” Cumming said. “She’s in good form.”

Cummings also confirmed Vilana will join Godolphin’s Perth carnival team, which includes stablemates Cascadian and Kementari, after his tough win over In The Congo in The Hunter at Newcastle last Saturday.

Vilana is now being aimed at the Group 1 $1.5 million Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) at Ascot on November 26.

“I’ve tested Vilana at a high level the Stradbroke Handicap and Golden Eagle but he had wide runs and excuses in both races,” Cummings said.

“But he showed in The Hunter that he is a top class sprinter. In The Congo is one of those horses, it is one thing to get to him but it is another thing to go past him, and Vilana showed his quality to beat him in The Hunter.”

Cummings was also taken by Max Lees Classic runner-up Cylinder at Newcastle and also another of his juvenile team, Remedies who bolted in at Cranbourne.

“Cylinder ran very well but Brad Widdup’s filly (Fire Lane) was too good, she did everything right,” Cummings said.

“I’m very tempted to run Cylinder again. There is a race in two weeks at Rosehill or I could even go to the Merson Cooper in Melbourne – but I don’t think he went as well as Remedies.”

The brilliant Remedies, a runaway winner on debut at Cranbourne, is a superbly-bred filly by former champion two-year-old Sepoy (winner of the 2011 Golden Slipper and Blue Diamond) out of dual Group 1 winner Virage De Fortune, herself a granddaughter of the great mare Emancipation.

“Remedies might be afforded a break and we can target the early two-year-old races in autumn,” Cummings said.

“She is a pretty slick two-year-old and I don’t think she is far off the good ones going into the premier Victorian Group 1 races in the autumn.”

Originally published as Boom apprentice Zac Lloyd to ride Godolphin mare Honeycreeper in the $1 million The Gong