Pandemic overwhelms rivals in first-up win

Trainer James Cummings.
Trainer James Cummings is making autumn plans for Pandemic after the colt’s first-up win.

James Cummings is holding his cards close to his chest but there is no doubting his excitement about what Pandemic might be able to achieve this campaign.

The three-year-old resumed with a classy win against older horses in Saturday’s Mark Alti Bookmakers Handicap (1100m) at Randwick after putting the writing on the wall in the spring with a stakes placing at his fourth start.

While punters who took the skinny $2.10 odds had an anxious moment when Pandemic was almost pocketed in the straight, Tommy Berry did not panic and shouldered his way into the clear.

The horse did the rest, nailing Rare Episode ($31) by a half length with the newly-gelded True Detective ($8.5) attacking the line to grab third.

“Tommy had him in splendid isolation,” Cummings said.

“I love the fact he didn’t panic and try to use the inside barrier on the horse that clearly enjoys being left alone early, and he’s got the acceleration to put himself into that race so quickly.

“He’s got a lot of ability this horse.

“He really got hammered at the weights for placing in a black-type race at the end of last preparation so against the older horses, to return like that is extremely encouraging and I daresay he’s got a really solid campaign ahead of him.”

Cummings said he had “a fair idea” of where he wanted to head with Pandemic but was loathe to reveal his thoughts given the horse had only won a benchmark race.

But he did confirm he felt Pandemic was a pure sprinter.

“He has just won a benchmark race in January so I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” Cummings said.

“He is going to race through his grades really quickly if he keeps demonstrating that sort of X-factor but they don’t get any easier from here on in.”