WEDNESDAY: October 13, 2021: EDWARD Cummings was understandably buoyant this evening about Duais’ Caulfield Cup prospects – and not even the forecast of substantial rain could dampen his enthusiasm.
It was all good news today with the classy mare at Caulfield – the scene of Saturday’s $5m Group 1 Cup (2400m) - when the Hawkesbury trainer’s Queensland Oaks winner again hit winning form at the right time by taking the Group 3 Coongy Cup (2000m), then drew barrier three (she will jump from two if first emergency Great House doesn’t secure a start) for her tilt at one of Australia’s greatest handicap races.
On the other hand, ruling favorite Incentivise drew the extreme outside and will start from 18.
Duais’ Cup jockey Michael Dee, already a five-times Group 1 winner, partnered her for the first time today; surging home off a modest pace to put herself right in the frame for Cup glory, especially as she drops from 57kg to 51kg.
A $34 chance prior to the Coongy, TAB.com.au halved Duais’ price to $17 following her victory.
Up to 60mm of rain is being forecast for Melbourne in the lead-up to the Cup, but Cummings isn’t concerned.
“She’ll be fine,” he said this evening. “Duais has won twice and been placed on two occasions from four starts on soft ground.
“And undoubtedly she will be the fittest horse going into Saturday’s race.
“I spoke with Michael Dee earlier this evening, and he was very happy with how the mare raced today and also pulled up.”
Cummings’ plan to start Duais in the Coongy only a few days before the Cup paid off as he wanted her to have a look at the Caulfield track for the first time, and similarly for her jockey to get the feel of her in a race for the first time.
Win, lose or draw it is a tremendous achievement on Cummings’ part to have a runner – and a live chance to boot – in a Caulfield Cup so soon after beginning his solo training career.
After sharing training duties with his father Anthony at Royal Randwick, the fifth generation trainer set up shop at Hawkesbury midway through the 2018-19 season, and clinched a breakthrough success with Gin Runner at Wellington in July, 2019.
Duais gave him both his first city win and stakes success and subsequently a maiden Group 1 triumph when, with Hugh Bowman aboard, she bolted away with the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm in early June.
He then set his sights on the Caulfield Cup – and the four-year-old daughter of Cox Plate winner Shamus Award is there!
Because of COVID restrictions, Cummings unfortunately won’t be at Caulfield on Saturday to saddle his mare.
“I’ll watch the race in Sydney with one of Duais’ part-owners Matt Irwin,” he said.
“Even though I can’t be in Melbourne, I was able to send Duais to the Melbourne stables of my brother James (Godolphin’s head Australian trainer).
“I’m in contact with the Melbourne team every day, and they have done a great job with her. I’m very fortunate to have that connection.”
. Duais is an Irish word which translated to English means “prize or reward”.
For the sake of Cummings and his family and Duais’ owners Matt Irwin and the Harris family, let’s hope she can give them a fantastic prize or reward on Saturday!
. Duais will rewrite the record books if she clinches the Coongy-Caulfield Cup double. Coongy winners don’t always back up in the Cup, but the last horse to “do the double” was Hymettus way back in 1898. In more modern times, another classy mare Circles Of Gold won the Coongy in 1996, then finished a length second to Arctic Scent in the Cup a few days later (with the same 51kg Duais will carry).
Coincidentally, Circles Of Gold in 1995 undertook a similar campaign to Duais as a three-year-old, winning the ATC Oaks before finishing second to Joie Denise in the Queensland Oaks.
Duais ran second to Hungry Heart in the ATC Oaks at Randwick in April before winning the Queensland Oaks in June.