Zminiature makes a winning start in the Brocklesby
Zminiature makes a winning start in the Brocklesby

Dylan Cunha has Royal Ascot ambitions for Zminiature

Dylan Cunha is keen to strike while the iron is hot with Zminiature, with securing a trip to Royal Ascot the objective for the pint-sized Brocklesby hero.

The Newmarket-based handler is a Group One winner in his native South Africa, but is beginning to make his mark in the UK.

Stable star Silver Sword’s exploits last term advertised Cunha’s talents as a trainer, but Zminiature’s triumph in the first two-year-old turf race of the season served notice of his intentions to become a regular visitor to the winner’s enclosure in 2024.

The son of Territories was not for stopping at the conclusion of his Town Moor debut and his trainer plans to fully take advantage of his precociousness, with Chester’s May Festival or Royal Ascot Trials day on the agenda before a possible outing at the royal meeting.

Cunha said: “It was lovely to get the first two-year-old off the mark. He did pretty much as expected, we expected a first four result and he was tough when he needed to be.

“We have a lot more babies who are a lot nicer than him, but there just not as forward as him. He’s forward and he’s honest and really tough. He’s come out of Doncaster even better than he went into it and he’s just one of those early types.

“To win a historic race like the Brocklesby is massive for us, it’s such a meaningful race in the programme.

“He’s come out of it well, he’s only tiny – his name is Zminiature because he is that small. I’m not sure if he will go through with it through the year as the other ones catch up to him, but he will definitely be competitive until June or July and then we will know a bit more if he grows a bit.

“We will probably look at something like the Lily Agnes (May 8) or Ascot Trials day (May 1) and get another run into him before hopefully trying to go to Royal Ascot with him.”

The standout performer in Cunha’s growing string is of course Silver Sword who found the scoresheet three times in 2023 and has the Phantom House Stables trainer harbouring big-race ambitions for the new season.

The four-year-old – who carries the same silks as the legendary Secretariat – was last seen finishing second in the Group Three Darley Stakes in a season that saw him strike a telling blow in a competitive handicap during York’s Ebor meeting.

He is gradually seeing his workload increased ahead of a slated reappearance in Ascot’s Paradise Stakes and he will then return to Group-race company at Epsom on Derby day before also having Royal Ascot possibilities later in the summer.

“Silver Sword in good form and he’s just about to have his first real grass gallop soon,” continued Cunha.

“He’s aiming at the mile Listed race at Ascot on May 1 and after that it will be the Diomed Stakes at Epsom on Derby day. Those are his two immediate plans and after that we will either go up in grade or back down depending on what happens.

“Basically if he wins the Diomed he will go up in grade, but if he runs disappointingly he will probably go back into handicaps and we will try to find him something at Royal Ascot or something.”

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