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  • John Curtis


MONDAY: October 4, 2021: HAWKESBURY’S Group 1 winning trainer Edward Cummings is chasing two more victories at racing’s elite level in Melbourne over the next two weekends.

Cummings clinched a maiden Group 1 triumph with Duais in the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm in June, and will run her in Saturday week’s $5m Caulfield Cup (2400m).

But first he has set his sights on Saturday’s $2m Caulfield Guineas (1600m) with Dark Rebel.

Cummings has booked two Melbourne jockeys – who between them have won 11 Group 1 races – for his pair, who will be sent to Melbourne on Wednesday night.

Expatriate New Zealander Michael Dee (5 Group 1s) partners Duais in the Cup, and Dean Yendall (6 Group 1s) rides Dark Rebel in the Guineas.

Dee claimed his first Group 1 success on Foundry in the 2017 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick, and earlier this year put himself in the record books by winning the Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in late February on $301 bolter Lunar Fox, the longest-priced Group 1 winner in Australia.

Yendall, who has ridden more than 2500 winners, waited three decades to post his maiden Group 1 winner; Yankee Rose in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick.

Cummings has excused Duais’ defeat in last Saturday’s $1m Group 2 Hill Stakes (2000m) – sixth to Think It Over – at Randwick to confirm a Caulfield Cup start.

“I was concerned beforehand she might be a bit underdone compared to most of the others in the Hill Stakes, who already had a number of runs going into the race,” he said this afternoon.

“And that’s how it turned out, plus the race wasn’t run to suit her either.

“Duais has pulled up well, and will definitely take improvement from last Saturday’s race when she was second up.”

Duais carried 56kg under the weight-for-age conditions of the Hill Stakes, and drops to 51kg in the Cup. She is currently 17th in order of entry (18 can run) and thus is guaranteed a start.

Cummings’ mare has eased to $34 in the Cup in a market dominated by exciting front-runner Incentivise ($2.10), whilst Dark Rebel is a $201 Guineas outsider, with Sydney three-year-old Anamoe the $2.30 top fancy.

Cummings also had Dark Rebel in Saturday’s $1m Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) at Randwick, but has opted to head south for a very good reason.

“Dark Rebel needs the cut out of the ground, and 25mm of rain has been forecast for Melbourne this week (the city was hit by rain and hail this afternoon),” he said.

The lightly-raced three-year-old relished the heavy conditions to score impressively on debut over 1400m at Warwick Farm in May, but failed at his last start in the Group 3 Gloaming Stakes (1800m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 25 on firmer ground.

Cummings nominated recent Hawkesbury winner Three Wise Men for Saturday’s $250,000 Group 2 Stan Fox Stakes (1500m) at Randwick, but won’t be accepting with him.

Instead, the three-year-old will contest the Midway Benchmark 72 Handicap (1400m) at that meeting.

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