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  • John Curtis


MONDAY: August 23, 2021: HAWKESBURY’S Group 1 heroine Duais is ready to begin a new campaign at Royal Randwick on Saturday week.

Trainer Edward Cummings announced the $200,000 Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) as the mare’s beginning of her four-year-old season after she had trialled at home this morning.

Ridden by race jockey Hugh Bowman, Duais finished fifth to The Everest hopeful Wild Ruler in the only 900m Group and Listed heat staged on the course proper.

The seven runners jumped from the barrier stalls at the 1000m and finished 100m from the winning post.

“I was happy with Duais’ trial,” Cummings said this afternoon. “Hugh dug her up for a few strides after the start just to get her back used to racing again as we have ridden her quietly in her last couple of starts (ATC Oaks and Queensland Oaks) at the end of her last campaign.

“She had a nice hitout and so far has pulled up well.

“The Tramway looks a nice race to kick off her four-year-old season, and she will get enough weight for Hugh to stay with her.”

Earlier run as a handicap, the Tramway is now a set weights plus penalties’ event, and, being a Group 1 winner, Duais will get 56kg.

Only two mares – multiple Group 2 and 3 winner Shania Dane (2005) and multiple Group 1 winner Lucia Valentina (2016) – have won the Tramway in the last 15 years.

Odds-on favorite Lucia Valentina was a luckless third in the 2016 ATC Oaks before subsequently landing the Tramway first-up, whilst Duais also goes into the Tramway fresh after finishing second to Hungry Heart in the ATC Oaks (2400m) at Randwick on April 17 before bolting away with the Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 5.

The Shamus Award mare’s Brisbane triumph put the seal on a breakout 2020-21 year for Cummings, who prepared 13 winners in only his second full season of training since setting up shop on his own at Hawkesbury after previously sharing training duties with his father Anthony at Randwick.

Duais has won four and been placed as many times from only 10 starts, and her Queensland Oaks victory boosted her earnings to nearly $750,000.

“She had five weeks’ break in Queensland after the Oaks before coming back to my stable, and she has definitely strengthened,” Cummings said.

“In a perfect world, the Caulfield Cup (to be run over 2400m on October 16) is the logical target with her.

“But in the current climate there are a number of hurdles to jump, not the least being her continuing last season’s form, before that can be confirmed.”

Duais has been named as a finalist for both the NSW Racehorse Owners’ Association Queen of the Autumn and Provincial Horse Of The Year categories; the awards due to be announced on Saturday.

Duais’ stablemate Reformist, who began his career in Sydney before racing in Melbourne, also contested the same trial this morning and will have a jumpout before beginning another campaign for his new trainer.

. Fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup took advantage of today’s Group and Listed trial to give his talented mare Adelong another hitout before she resumes in the Group 3 Concorde Stakes (1000m) at Randwick on Saturday week.

The winner of eight of her 17 starts, including the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes (1100m) at Randwick on June 12 at her latest run, Adelong showed her customary pace and wasn’t pushed out before being narrowly beaten by Wild Ruler (Trekking, third and fourth in the last two runnings of The Everest, was a close third) in 52.58secs (last 600m in 33.92s).

Widdup was delighted with his Golden Eagle and Doncaster Mile runner-up Icebath’s return third in last Saturday’s Group 3 Show County Quality (1200m) at Randwick.

“She raced wide, and gave the winner (Private Eye) and runner-up (Embracer) 3.5kg and 4kg respectively,” he said.

“Icebath is a stronger mare this time, and has pulled up really well.

“We have the option of going next to either the Group 2 Sheraco Stakes (1200m) against her own sex or Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1300m), scheduled to be run at Rosehill on September 11.

“Now that she has had one run back at 1200m, the 1300m of the Theo Marks is probably the better option.”

Stablemate Mr Bond, who ran well when third at his city debut in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (2400m) at Randwick last Saturday, will have one more start before going for a well-earned break.

“A lack of pace didn’t suit him, but he’s very genuine,” Widdup said. “There’s another 2400m Benchmark 78 on September 11, and that will do him for this campaign.”

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