A half-century and almost 250 grade I winners separate Australian racing icon Bart Cummings and his Caulfield Guineas (Aus-I) jockey, Luke Nolen. But they shared a famous victory with Wonderful World in Australia's spring championship for 3-year-olds at a mile on Oct 14.
The 126th Guineas edition provided Nolen with his first grade I success, along with that of the winner's sire, Agnes World. Cummings' fifth win in the past 40 years, to tie the handler record, is grade I win #247 for the inaugural Australian Racing Hall of Fame member. It comes a month shy of his 79th birthday and is his first since he won this $1 million (Australian funds) feature last year with God's Own.
Nolan had not ridden for the Cummings barn before the Melbourne-based 26-year-old picked up the winning mount on Wonderful World in the (Caulfield) Guineas Prelude (Aus-III) on Sept 23.
Nolan placed the colt fifth as Court Command assumed the lead from the other 12, as expected. Almost immediately, the 16-10 elect and pilot Darryl McLellan were challenged for the lead by Muzdaher, at 17-1 the longest-priced of four runners supplied by the David Hayes barn.
The ensuing hot fractions appeared to diminish the chances of Court Command. Another Hayes entry, Churchill Downs, appeared likely to win for Sue Magnier and her partners when Craig Williams angled him inside the leaders to challenge off the third and final bend. But he was a little one-paced in the stretch and settled on heading the unplaced division, beaten just over two lengths.
Court Command held them at bay, but 200 meters from the wire seemed certain to miss a place as Wonderful World (11-2) charged past near the middle of the track, with Excites (13-1) in pursuit. But the Newcastle colt found deep reserves of courage to hold on for third as New South Wales stables swept the placings. Muzdaher beat one home.
At the wire Wonderful World had 1 3/4 lengths to spare from Excites, a short neck back to Court Command. The resulting 1:35.98, on a track heavily watered to take out the fire, is the third fastest Guineas renewal and 55/100ths outside the race record set by Helenus three years earlier.
The second and third colts are by Danehill sons, Danewin and Commands, the latter supplying a minor place-getter for the past three years. The fourth-placed Churchill Downs is from Danehill's final generation, bred in Ireland to southern time in 2002.
The winner is the fourth successive direct descendant of Danzig to win the Guineas. The brown colt became the first graded winner from three smallish crops left by his sire, Agnes World, in Australia, in taking the Guineas Prelude last month. The Calumet Farm-bred Agnes World won the Prix l'Abbaye (Fr-I) and shuttled to Widden Stud from Shadai and Dalham Hall before returning to Japan.
Dato Tan Chin Nam, Chye Khaw and Michael Alexeef race Wonderful World. They are partners in the Cummings-prepared 2005 Caulfield Guineas hero, God's Own. Dato Tan is a long-time friend and client, since buying into Think Big before the horse won two Melbourne Cups in the 1970s.
Bred by Millenium Thoroughbreds, Wonderful World was snared up for $170,000 at the 2005 Magic Million sale by agent Duncan Ramage, a hunter-gatherer for Cummings and Dato Tan. When the colt showed early potential, Ramage also picked up his dam, Success Tale, for $12,000. The Success Express daughter visits God's Own – by Danehill sensation Redoute's Choice – at Yallambee this spring.
Wonderful World proved a shade recalcitrant on right-handed tracks in Sydney, finishing well back in three races there after two early wins. He had adapted to Caulfield for two minor placings in the fall and Cummings switched his spring focus to Melbourne, the result perfect.
The last words must belong to Cummings: "I'm feeling fine; I'm pretty fit and when your horses are winning you feel young."