WEDNESDAY: February 9, 2022: IT could not have been a more divine result on a special day for the Cummings family!
Hawkesbury trainer Edward Cummings clinched his fourth home track winner of the season (and ninth overall) yesterday when a promising three-year-old filly racing in the colours of his legendary late grandfather J.B. (Bart) Cummings made a brilliant start to a new campaign.
Well-backed $2.60 favorite I’m Divine (Rachel King) took up the running in the Lander Toyota Maiden Handicap (1300m) – and thereafter never gave her rivals a chance.
She had more than two and a half lengths to spare at the end over By Nine ($8.50) and Ninja Star ($10).
It was I’m Divine’s second start and her first since a break, and miraculous that she is racing at all.
After finishing seventh on debut at Hawkesbury on August 31 last year, I’m Divine was to have contested a 1400m Maiden (also against her own sex) at the Newcastle Cup carnival a fortnight later when all hell broke loose.
I’m Divine became fractious in the barrier and was cast for a lengthy period before she was able to be freed.
“We were very fortunate she did not sustain serious injuries,” Cummings said this morning.
“She had to trial to stewards’ satisfaction which she did 10 days later at Hawkesbury, and then we gave her a break.”
I’m Divine is the only horse in Cummings’ Myrtle House stables which races in the familiar green and gold diagonal stripes and white cap worn by Jim Cassidy when he won the 2009 Australian Derby at Royal Randwick for Bart on the filly’s now deceased sire Roman Emperor.
“Bart and my brother James trained I’m Divine’s mother Novena, and then James had her for one more run (a second on the Beaumont track in October, 2015) two months after Bart passed away,” Edward Cummings said.
“Bernadette Richardson and Susan Embleton bred I’m Divine and gave her to me to train.
“They requested she race in Bart’s colours, and of course I was happy to oblige.”
I’m Divine is Street Sense mare Novena’s second foal. Her first, also a filly by Roman Emperor, died soon after birth.
I’m Divine trotted up freely this morning after yesterday’s dominant first-up performance, and her trainer says it is now a matter of balancing ambition with common sense.
“She has been entered for the Group 1 Surround Stakes (1400m) against her own age and sex at Randwick on February 26, and there are following Group 1s such as the Vinery Stud Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 26 and Australian Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 9,” Cummings said.
“But we will be guided by her progress.
“I’m Divine is taking time and not yet the furnished package, and needs to be able to relax amongst horses.
“She was still a little green yesterday, but is making good strides and will take further improvement.
“I will probably trial her at Hawkesbury on Friday week, and then make a decision about the Surround.
“If we don’t go that way, there are Benchmark races and the Group 3 Kembla Grange Classic (1600m) for fillies on March 11.”
. Cummings was rapt with a Written Tycoon colt from Muy Bien he purchased for $200,000 under his Myrtle House banner at this week’s Inglis Classic yearling sale.
And he is looking forward to beginning his Group 1 winning mare Duais’ autumn preparation at Randwick on Saturday in the $250,000 Group 2 wfa Apollo Stakes (1400m).
Josh Parr has been booked for the four-year-old in both the Apollo and Group 1 $600,000 wfa Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m), also at Randwick, a fortnight later.
Duais has had two recent trials to prepare for her resumption, and her trainer is happy with her.
“But the Apollo will be an entrée to her degustation menu,” Cummings said.
. It was certainly a Cummings’ day at Hawkesbury with Edward’s younger brother James snaring the first three races and then the closer.
His foursome with Naples ($3.20 favorite), Transformation ($3.50), Huzzah ($8.50), and Retrieval ($12) propelled him to outright leader in the trainers’ premiership with eight wins; one ahead of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.
Jenny Duggan rode Huzzah in the XXXX Gold Class 1 Handicap (1100m), and became joint front-runner in the Rising Star series for apprentices.
It was her second winner of the current series, and the seven points she gained from yesterday’s success took her to 23 points, equal with Jackson Searle, who earned a point in finishing fifth on Our Fox ($13).
Rachel King (I’m Divine and Songbird Serenade) and Glyn Schofield (Transformation and Retrieval) each rode doubles.
King’s double took her to nine wins for the season, one behind front-runner Josh Parr.