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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


MONDAY: April 3, 2023: The “old firm” is back together again chasing another feature Group 1 success at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Hawkesbury’s Edward Cummings had Hugh Bowman on board for his maiden Group 1 triumph two years, and has called on him to chase a fourth in the $1m ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) on Day 2 of The Championships.

Cummings this morning announced Bowman’s booking for last Saturday’s impressive Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes winner Arts in the three-year-old fillies’ classic.

Bowman, with 99 Group 1 wins in Australia, is seeking to become only the third jockey (after George Moore and Damien Oliver) to raise his whip for a century in his home country.

Hawkesbury trainers have already clinched two Group 1s – also worth $1m - so far this season; Brad Widdup with Icebath in the Empire Rose Stakes (1600m) at Flemington last October, and Michael Freedman with Communist in the Randwick Guineas (1600m) last month.

Fellow jockey Sam Clipperton is unbeaten on Arts in her two wins; a debut success in a Kembla Grange Maiden Plate (1400m) on February 23, and the Adrian Knox (2000m).

However, he is unavailable for the Oaks, having a prior commitment to Pierossa, whom he rode when third and fourth respectively in the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) and Group 1 Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens last month.

“With Sam being unavailable, that has opened the door for another jockey to ride Arts in the Oaks, and that is Hugh Bowman,” Cummings said this morning.

“Arts ate up overnight on Saturday after her Randwick win, and we’ll be paying up for her tomorrow to back up in the Oaks.”

Cummings has held a good opinion of the lightly-raced Xtravagant filly, but admitted he was surprised by the dominance of her stunning four lengths’ plus victory in the Adrian Knox.

“I always felt Arts would be better at 2000m and further, but the Adrian Knox was run at no more than an even speed, and she pulled for most of it.

“As a result, I didn’t expect her to sprint as she did at the end, so that made her performance all the more impressive.”

Bowman won the Adrian Knox two years ago for Cummings on Duais, and also rode her a week later when runner-up to Hungry Heart in the ATC Oaks before clinching the Queensland Oaks at Eagle Farm two months later to provide Cummings with his first Group 1 success.

Cummings subsequently won another two Group 1s with Duais last autumn – the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington and Tancred Stakes (2400m) at Newcastle, transferred from Rosehill – when Josh Parr in the saddle.

He has paid Arts a huge compliment, saying she has a longer stride and better turn of foot than Duais.

Whilst Arts’ two wins have been on soft and heavy ground and her sole defeat was last of 12 to ruling $3 Oaks favorite Pavitra in the Kembla Grange Classic on a good surface, Cummings is wholly excusing her for that run.

“I’m not blaming the good track; she was ridden too aggressively that day,” he said.

“Arts is still unexposed as the ATC Oaks will be only her fourth career start, whereas Duais was having her eighth start when she ran in the Oaks two years ago, and ninth when she won the Queensland Oaks.”

Arts’ Oaks price was slashed from $101 to $11 immediately after she won the Adrian Knox, and her quote has been reduced further. She is now a $6 third favorite with

. Triple Group 1 winner Duais is pleasing Cummings as she is being prepared for another campaign.

The now five-year-old mare failed in the Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1 last year, but a subsequent scan when she returned to her trainer’s Hawkesbury base revealed an injury, and she underwent surgery and then rehabilitation.

“Duais is doing well, and I expect to trial her in a couple of weeks,” he said.

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