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  • Writer's pictureJohn Curtis


WEDNESDAY: November 22, 2023: AFTER four Melbourne Group 1 placings and an unlucky Cox Plate fourth, a midweek Super Maiden at Warwick Farm was easy pickings today for Edward Cummings.

The Hawkesbury trainer’s lightly-raced four-year-old Rockola ($2.60 favorite), at only his first campaign, easily disposed of his rivals in the $100,000 Maiden Plate (1400m) in a manner which suggested better things are in store.

But not just yet.

“This is his first racing campaign and his fourth start for me, and he’ll go to the paddock for a couple of weeks,” Cummings said afterwards.

“He works and looks like a good progressive horse, and we’ll give him the chance to go through his grades next autumn.

“But we’ll let the dust settle, and keep our feet on the ground.”

Confidently ridden by Tyler Schiller, Rockola moved up menacingly approaching the home turn, and burnt clear over the closing stages to score by more than three lengths from Duke Of Lancaster ($9) and fellow Hawkesbury representative, Jason and Lucy Attard’s Tsarism ($26).

A son of Jukebox, Rockola is the first living foal of Husson Bolt, who raced only twice for a debut Hawkesbury placing in 2013.

But the gelding’s granddam Litter (by Catbird) won four races in Sydney, and a Listed event at Eagle Farm on a very heavy track.

Racing in winkers for the first time, Rockola was Cummings’ sixth winner of the season, and his career 53rd since branching out on his own and setting up shop at Hawkesbury in 2019.

It has already been an excellent start to the racing year – and one which would be so much better had luck gone his way.

Duais was placed in the Underwood Stakes and Caulfield Stakes at Caulfield and Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington, and sandwiched in between was a luckless fourth in the $5m Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley.

Then Strait Acer ran third, with little luck in the straight, in last Saturday’s Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.

Those performances helped swell the stable’s earnings to just over $2.1m already this season in the first four months, not far shy of his best season of $2.6m in 2021-22 when Duais won two Groups 1s; the Australian Cup at Flemington and Tancred Stakes (transferred from Rosehill Gardens to Newcastle).

Duais is spelling, and Cummings has also decided not to continue with Strait Acer’s outstanding campaign where he went from winning a Class 1 Handicap (1300m) first-up in July to a Group 1 placegetter, and stamped himself as future Group 1 winner.

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