Luca Cumani may have had an “inkling” earlier in the year that a parting of the ways could come with Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, owner of King George winner and leading Arc contender Postponed.
The Newmarket-based trainer has been enjoying a good season in the yellow and black silks, with Connecticut’s recent win in the Bosphorus Cup in Turkey and a third place in the Oaks for Lady Of Dubai supplementing Postponed’s Group One success at Ascot back in July.
Cumani won the 1998 Derby for Sheikh Obaid with High-Rise and no issues were evident as Postponed came through his Arc prep in last Sunday’s Prix Foy in fine style.
Cumani underlined no reason has been given as to why Sheikh Mohammed’s cousin has opted to remove all his horses, transferring them to fellow Newmarket handler Roger Varian.
Cumani said: “It’s actually 35 horses that will be taken away. Obviously we’re all very shocked, I especially feel very sorry for the staff who’ve worked hard on these horses all year. We’ve been told not to run any more horses and when big-race targets were coming up it’s very sad for the staff, they work hard and look after the horses and care a lot about their horses.
“Owners have that prerogative, they buy the horses and they can choose who trains them.”
Asked why he thought the split might have happened, Cumani told Racing UK: “I’m not sure, I haven’t been given a reason, yes I’ve had inklings, it started in the spring with rumblings and then it was confirmed to me the week after (Glorious) Goodwood. No date set, and now recently I’ve been told I’m not to run any more horses.
“But I want to take this opportunity to thank Sheikh Obaid for 20 years of support and many, many good horses. I’ve been privileged to train them for him and I hope he was satisfied with the races they won.
“Thank you very much, we turn the page and move on.”
Regarding Postponed, Cumani said: “Everything has gone extremely smoothly with Postponed all year, after we won the Voltigeur last year we said the target is now the King George and we hit the target. Then we said the target is now the Arc – we won’t hit that target now but we hit the target in his prep race. He did that very well, aided by a strong pace we set with a pacemaker.
“He’s in good form, he’s a lovely horse and I’ll be sad to lose him.
“I’ve no idea, don’t know (whether he still runs in the Arc). I’m pretty sure he could be in the mix, I’m not saying he can win it, but it is horse racing and he has shown a high level of form, ability and tenacity and that is the most important thing about Postponed – he shows a lot of guts and tenacity and he likes a battle. I would definitely have him in the mix.”
Varian confirmed the owner’s horses will now be part of his Kremlin House string.
A statement on his website, www.varianstable.co.uk, said: “Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum has asked Roger to train his string of horses, previously in training with Luca Cumani.”
Meanwhile the British Horseracing Authority has set a date for Wednesday next week to hear the appeal by connections of Simple Verse against the decision to demote the filly from first place in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster.
Trained by Ralph Beckett for Qatar Racing, the Andrea Atzeni-ridden three-year-old passed the post a head in front of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Bondi Beach, but a stewards’ inquiry was immediately called into interference as the pair appeared to bump twice in the closing stages.
Following a tense wait, during which Atzeni and Bondi Beach’s rider Colm O’Donoghue argued their respective cases in front of the stewards live on Channel 4, the announcement was made that Simple Verse had been placed second.
The BHA tweeted: “Appeal against decision of Doncaster stewards to reverse placings following interference in St Leger will be on Wed 23 Sept at 10am.” The appeal was originally set for this week, but was delayed due to the availability of counsel.
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