Matt Cumani is better placed than most to comment on the raging debate between how Australian horse trainers prepare their distance horses as against their fellow horseman in Europe.
As the son of highly successful trainer Luca Cumani, Matt Cumani has tasted both methods of getting your racehorse to run a distance.
Cumani, 35, maintains that in some instances Australians prepare their horse similarly to English and Irish trainers.
“It’s often referred to as the Aussie way of putting speed into their legs, but giving riding instructions to gallop a horse over seven furlongs and go home hard the final two furlongs is pretty much world standard,” he said.
“They worked them that way in Sydney, Melbourne, and Newmarket. In fact it’s a fairly standard approach to preparing race horses.”
Cumani has moved to Ballarat and has established his own training base and believes there are only a few telling differences in how trainers make stayers perform at there best.
Cumani has a Melbourne Cup runner this year, Grey Lion, who has enjoyed the best of both worlds.
“It’s just those subtle differences really when two horses gallop here, they leave the track straight away and while they’re still blowing they will be hosed down, scraped and sent back to their box,” Cumani said.
“But, in contrast, in England after our horses are worked they will take a leisurely hour walk home. And that’s the way of finding out little idiosyncrasies and also goes a long way to keep them relaxed and enjoy what they are doing. But it’s labour intensive because if you have 100 horses in work in England, you need perhaps 30 or 40 track workers to make the operation tick.
“And that’s a luxury that in Australia we can’t afford. It’s very expensive to hire so many extra riders that it’s just not worth it.”
Cumani believes that staying horses are unnecessarily put into shorter races in Australia on their way to their favourite distance journeys which may be 2000 metres or beyond.
Cumani points out that there is no need to have horses start preparations at 1400 metres, then 1600, and then to their favourite distance.
“I just get concerned that you start them at a distance a lot shorter than they are used to and they can become exhausted because of the taxing effects of racing at an unsuitable trip and they struggle to get their stride and rhythm,” he said.
“That’s why in Europe horses go straight into 2000-metre races or beyond. It’s feared that the horses become uncertain of what they are doing racing at a short distance.
“And then the next time they come to the races they don’t know what to do and they want to get the race over as quickly as possible so then you’ve got a horse that over races and pulls hard.”
Cumani maintains that Australian racing has incredible upsides at this time of year with the attention being solely focused on the sport.
“When the major races are on in England you don’t have soccer fans instantly becoming taken with racing. The sport in England is a niche sport,” he said.
“But in Australia it’s quite different, football fans begin to embrace racing as soon as the footy is over and the sport and the sporting landscape is all racing.”
And his hopes of winning a Melbourne Cup with Grey Lion may rely on the best of both worlds when preparing a stayer to win Australia’s most important handicap.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.