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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY, August 14, 2023: HAWKESBURY’S triple Group 1 winning mare Duais will have a new rider when she resumes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Jason Collett will partner the now six-year-old and $3m earner in the first major of the new season, the $1m wfa Winx Stakes (1400m), trainer Edward Cummings confirmed today.

Collett got a “feel” of Duais in a 1000m barrier trial at Warwick Farm on August 4, and replaces Sam Clipperton, who rode the mare when she raced well in both her Brisbane starts during the winter carnival.

“The change has been necessary as Sam is committed to Think About It (on whom he is unbeaten in seven rides, culminating with the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap, 1400m at Eagle Farm in June),” Cummings explained.

“Think About It will be running in The Everest at Randwick on October 14, and all going well, Duais will be in Melbourne that day for the Group 1 Might And Power Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.”

Cummings says his mare’s current benchmark rating (113) means he is virtually resigned to a weight-for-age path with her this spring.

“She is the equal third highest rated horse in the Winx Stakes behind only Think It Over (120) and Zaaki (117),” Cummings said.

Duais had a short break after her Brisbane campaign, when both runs were also at weight-for-age.

She ran fourth to Huetor in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m) on May 20, and third to Without A Fight in the Group 2 The Q22 (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 10.

She had not raced since undergoing surgery to remove a bone chip from her off fore fetlock when tackling the Doomben Cup first-up.

The injury was discovered a few weeks after finishing down the course in Gold Trip’s Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1.

“Duais had a couple of weeks in the paddock before coming back into work, and I’m very pleased with her,” Cummings said.

“Every race we tackle this spring is a goal with her.”

Duais is a $26 chance with for the Winx Stakes, with Fangirl (James McDonald) the early $3.50 favorite ahead of Zaaki (Jamie Kah) at $4.50.

Kembla Grange champ Think It Over (Nash Rawiller), having his comeback race after being off the scene since the autumn of last year, is at $8.

Meanwhile, Cummings says he can run his weekend Rosehill Gardens winner Strait Acer in another Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap in the coming weeks.

“Strait Acer’s benchmark was raised to 71 following his victory last Saturday, and that was music to my ears,” he said.

The Headwater four-year-old’s success took Cummings to within two of achieving 50 winners since branching out on his own and setting up shop at Hawkesbury and having his first runner in March, 2019.

. Protagonist (60kg), Parry Sound (54kg), and Hawkesbury trio, Blake Ryan’s Momack and Jason Attard and Lucy Keegan-Attard’s Ruby Flyer and Luvoir (all on 54kg also) are the five provincial entries for Thursday’s $200,000 Listed Rowley Mile at the first provincial Showcase meeting of the season at Hawkesbury.

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