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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


THURSDAY: March 9, 2023: HAWKESBURY’S triple Group 1 winning trainer Edward Cummings is having a “throw at the stumps” with the inexperienced Arts in tomorrow’s Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m).

He has withdrawn the daughter of 2015 NZ 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Xtravagant from the easier Benchmark 64 Handicap over the same distance to contest the $200,00 feature for three-year-old fillies.

“The owners were keen to have a crack at the Kembla Grange Classic with Arts,” Cummings said this afternoon.

“It’s a big ask of course jumping from a Maiden on debut to a Group 3 at set weights plus penalties.

“I’ve been very happy with Arts since she won her first start, and I’ll be over the moon if she can manage a placing tomorrow.

“It’s the right time to try her at the ‘mile’, and there’s no doubt she will take further improvement from tomorrow’s race.”

Brett Prebble has been given RacingNSW stewards’ permission to ride Arts 0.5kg over at 54.5kg in the Classic.

As trainers do with well-bred three-year-old fillies showing staying potential, Cummings has nominated Arts for the $1m Group 1 Australian Oaks (2400m) at Royal Randwick on April 8 (Day 2 of The Championships).

Cummings is one of only two provincial trainers with a representative in the Group 3 event (the other is Kembla Grange-based Ben Smith, who runs Whisky Wisdom, to be ridden by star apprentice Zac Lloyd).

The field has been reduced to 12 with leading Newcastle trainer Kris Lees announcing both his fillies will bypass the Classic.

Lees has already withdrawn Wolverine, and this afternoon sent stablemate Razeta to Melbourne to chase the $300,000 Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.

Arts made an impressive start to her racing career when she landed a Maiden Plate (1400m) at Kembla Grange on February 23.

There was plenty of merit in her performance as she began awkwardly and raced wide and without cover for most of the race.

Bookmakers are giving Cummings’ filly little chance of taking the Classic however, as she was at $41 this afternoon with

Call Di, a daughter of unbeaten 14-start English champion Frankel and Lees’ former multiple Group 1 winner Samantha Miss, and Pavitra are sharing favoritism with at $3.50.

. Brad Widdup’s filly Fire Lane (Jay Ford) has drawn barrier 10 in a field of 16 for Saturday’s Group 3 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens, and fellow Hawkesbury trainer Edward O’Rourke’s unraced filly Kimmela (William Pike) has drawn barrier seven.

Michael Freedman, who won last Saturday’s Group 1 Randwick Guineas with Communist from his Hawkesbury stable, will be represented by Daytona (Brett Prebble) in the Group 2 Phar Lap Stakes (1500m).

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