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  • John Curtis


SUNDAY: February 28, 2021: EDWARD Cummings had classic aspirations when he purchased a then lightly-raced three-year-old two years ago as he began his own training career at Hawkesbury.

Unfortunately, an injury beset his plans with Lava, a son of Reset and Sydney winner, the New Approach mare Kona.

It has been a long road back, but Cummings’ training skills came to the fore yesterday at Newcastle when the now five-year-old won his first race at only his sixth start (fourth for his new trainer).

And it was a gritty performance which suggested he can go on with the job, albeit his connections’ classic hopes are no longer a possibility.

Just when Lava ($6) looked likely to be overhauled after striking the front in the straight in yesterday’s Maiden Handicap (1500m), jockey Grant Buckley lifted him over the line to deny $2.40 favorite No Question in a tight finish.

The pair had the race all to themselves with $18 chance Bedford Square a distant third.

“The preparation we have been able to give him this time undoubtedly helped him, along with his own determination,” Cummings said today.

“There’s definitely further improvement in him as he hasn’t yet reached peak fitness.

“I’m sure he will handle a middle-distance as we had hoped he would when I bought him as a three-year-old at the Magic Millions racehorse sale in January two years ago.”

Lava was initially prepared by Cummings’ brother James for Godolphin, and started only twice – both at Cranbourne – in December 2018 and January 2019.

He was placed in a 1600m Maiden Plate not long before he was sold.

“I thought he would be an ideal type for a race such as the South Australian Derby at Morphettville,” Cummings said.

“However, he sustained a lesion to a suspensory branch in a track gallop as he was getting closer to having his first run for us.

“Derby plans naturally went out the window and we gave him plenty of time to rehabilitate.

“You can never be sure this type of injury won’t occur again, but Lava is sound at present and he will no doubt gain confidence from yesterday’s victory.”

Cummings is making every post a winner, enjoying easily his best season since branching out on his own after previously training jointly with his father Anthony at Royal Randwick.

Lava provided him with his eighth winner in 2020-21, with five months still remaining.

Cummings won’t have a representative when Hawkesbury hosts the second heat of the Polytrack Provincial Championships on Saturday, but is hoping to gain a start with recent Canberra winner Spanish Pearl in the third heat (1200m) at Gosford on Saturday week.

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