Image: Bradley Photos
OCTOBER 24, 2023: EDWARD Cummings is hoping Duais can “do a Winx” in Saturday’s $5m Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley.
The Hawkesbury trainer didn’t hesitate to choose the No 1 barrier for Duais when his triple Group 1 winner was the eighth horse out when the draw was conducted this morning.
Earlier Duais’ jockey Damien Oliver, having his final ride in the rich weight-for-age event before retiring, partnered the mare in a gallop during the “Breakfast With The Best” session as the mare gained valuable experience on the tight circuit.
The Cox Plate allows connections to choose their own barrier in a sequence once their saddlecloth number is drawn from a barrel.
The mighty mare Winx started from the inside barrier in 2015 when she won the first of her historic four Cox Plates.
She has been the only horse in the last three decades to win the Plate from the rails barrier.
Duais and Sydney’s Fangirl (Zac Purton) are the only mares in the 12-horse field.
TAB.com.au listed Duais at $26 after the barriers were finalised, with Hong Kong visitor Romantic Warrior (James McDonald) the $3.80 favorite.
Cummings has his six-year-old mare on song for a Cox Plate tilt following excellent performances at her last two Group 1 starts in Melbourne; both at the same weight-for-age conditions as Saturday’s major.
She made nice ground to finish third, beaten just over a length, to Plate rival Alligator Blood (ridden by Oliver) in the Underwood Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on September 23, then again ran third, after going back to last from the outside barrier, to the same horse in the Might And Power Stakes (2000m) there on October 14.
Cummings is understandably delighted with his mare’s progress this campaign, and considers she is now at her top after four starts (two in Sydney and the last two in Melbourne).
And the Cox Plate may not be Duais’ spring swansong either, with Cummings hinting at giving his mare the opportunity to star on the world stage.
“Depending on how she performs on Saturday and pulls up, there is also the $3m TAB Champions Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 11 on the final day of the carnival,” he said.
Cummings also revealed Duais will be amongst overseas nominations for both the Vase (2000m) and Cup (2400m) at Hong Kong’s International race meeting at Sha Tin on December 10.
Whilst his immediate focus is this weekend, he is also looking forward to starting Strait Acer in Saturday week’s $10m Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens.
The much improved four-year-old was a late closing second to Viena Princess in the $1m Silver Eagle (1300m) at Royal Randwick on October 14.
Tommy Berry rode Strait Acer then, but goes on to Epsom runner-up Kovalica, and Tyler Schiller has taken the mount.
. Leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup’s Ausbred Flirt has made the field for Saturday’s $2m The Invitation (1400m) at Randwick.
Widdup won the inaugural running of the feature event with Icebath (Kerrin McEvoy) in 2021.
Twelve “girls” have been invited to contest the fillies and mares’ feature, and Ausbred Flirt earned her spot with excellent performances at both Randwick runs this campaign.
She burst between runners to score first-up against the “boys” in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1400m) on September 16, then drew awkwardly and was caught only in the closing stages by Renaissance Woman in the Group 3 Angst Stakes (1600m) on October 14.