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  • John Curtis


SATURDAY: February 20, 2021: EDWARD Cummings’ stable flag continues to fly high this season.

A breakthrough success with Spanish Pearl at Canberra yesterday was his seventh win of the season, and he is second alone to leading Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup (15 wins) in 2020-21.

Cummings took a big team of six horses to the feature meeting, and returned home with a winner and two seconds.

Yet it could have been even better!

Aside from Spanish Pearl’s Maiden Plate (1300m) victory at $19, Cummings also saddled three-year-old filly Elusive Birdie ($26), who was excellent on debut when runner-up in the Maiden Handicap (1000m) and the promising Prompt Prodigy ($6), who looked home before being overhauled in the last few strides by $1.85 favorite Favreau in the Class 1 Plate (1600m).

It is clearly Cummings’ best season – and there is still five months remaining – since he set up shop on his own at Hawkesbury in the second half of the 2018-19 season after previously sharing training duties with his father Anthony at Royal Randwick.

His first winner was Gin Runner at Wellington in July, 2019.

The fifth generation trainer understandably was pleased to get Spanish Pearl off the mark after owner Tracey Davies transferred her to his stable when former Hawkesbury trainer Scott Singleton moved to Scone.

Spanish Pearl had only one start under Singleton’s care, and Cummings has taken her along steadily; yesterday being her seventh start for him.

A lightly-raced five-year-old by Lope De Vega from the Perugino mare Fidemus (a winner in both Melbourne and Sydney), Spanish Pearl fetched $65,000 as the 2017 Inglis Classic yearling sale in Sydney.

Fidemus had slipped to Lope De Vega and then missed to Onemorenomore in the previous two seasons before foaling Spanish Pearl.

“She is big and strong and I’m sure there is further improvement in her,” Cummings said this morning of Spanish Pearl.

“We have taken our time with her, and she appreciated getting to 1300m for the first time with me after being placed at her four previous runs at 1100m.”

Given a brilliant ride by Christian Reith, who had her away smartly from barrier nine in a field of 14 before taking a sit, Spanish Pearl finished resolutely to score comfortably from Phearson ($4) and $2.80 favorite Zouflu.

Cummings also spoke glowingly of the performances of runners-up Elusive Birdie and Prompt Prodigy.

“Elusive Birdie did a terrific job at her first start as she drew the outside barrier,” Cummings said.

“Prompt Prodigy also was excellent following on from his breakthrough Newcastle1500m victory a few weeks ago.

“Both my horse and the winner are smart and heading in the right direction.”

Cummings is gradually stepping More Than Ready three-year-old Prompt Prodigy up in distance.

He is planning to run him next at home in a Benchmark 64 Handicap (1800m) when Hawkesbury hosts a qualifying heat of the Polytrack Provincial Championships on March 6.

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