Declares War, pictured winning at Flemington in January (Image: Racing Photos)
Declares War might not get to race in a derby after all despite getting his racing career back on track when he lumped 60 kilograms to win at Flemington on Saturday.
Trainer Matt Cumani explained after the Mahogany Challenge Handicap that the horse always promised to be a Derby type but favoured the horse missing the final Group 1 Derby of the season in Brisbane next month and instead sending him out for a spell after gelding the horse during the autumn.
"We’ll have a chat to the group but I think you’ve probably got to be thinking about a break," Cumani said.
"We’ll see about the (Queensland) Derby. He took his gelding a bit hard to be honest. He gets a bit nervous pre-race now, which he didn’t used to do, so I feel like he’ll come back a lot better from a spell."
Declares War began his campaign as one of the most promising three-year-old stayers but Cumani decided he needed gelding after failing to flatter in lead-up races. He was again poor at Flemington at his latest run but bounced back to for on Saturday.
After enjoying a nice smother back on the rails, jockey Jye McNeil produced the stayer at the top of the straight and he ran down the $19 outsider Igniter to win by a short neck with three and a quarter lengths to the fast-finishing Not A Single Cent ($11) in third place.
WATCH: Declares War win at Flemington
Cumani explained that after having such high hopes at the start of the campaign, the autumn has proven a little stressful with the horse.
"It’s been a bit of a slog really," Cumani said of the campaign.
"There were a few things that weren’t quite working for him but he’s gelded and come back still a big, strong and powerful horse.
"You’ve got to bear in mind that this is probably a step down to what he was challenging for earlier in the prep so we’ve got to keep that in mind, but I think he’ll improve into next year and I think he’ll improve with a spell. So that would be my preference.
"He’s a horse still developing, I think. He’s getting his running style. Some of his starts pre-gelding were too bad to be true. He just weren’t seeing that finish so we’re assuming the gelding has done the trick.’’
Declares War was purchased by Cumani as a yearling but after struggling to get owners for the horse, he was transferred to Darren Weir with Cumani getting the horse back after Weir’s disqualification.
"We had an issue as we could sell all of him so the owner need to find another trainer and Weiry kindly helped him out and took 25 per cent of the horse," Cumani said.
"As fate happens, he came back to us so.
"Darren (Weir) used to always think he was stayer and I think that’s why we always had derby in mind and I was a bit dubious after his first few starts, but that was pretty solid there today."