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  • John Curtis


WEDNESDAY: September 29, 2021: IT’S already been a good news week for Hawkesbury’s Edward Cummings – and it could get even better at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

The Group 1 winning trainer hopes to celebrate Sunborn’s inclusion in the field for the inaugural $700,000 The Four Pillars Midway Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on October 30 by seeing his classy mare Duais enhance her Caulfield Cup prospects.

Queensland Oaks winner Duais (Hugh Bowman) lines up for her second start this campaign in the $1m Hill Stakes (2000m) as Cummings readies her for a tilt at the $5m Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 16.

Duais has 56kg under the weight-for-age conditions and drops to 51kg in the Caulfield Cup – and cannot be penalised should she win on Saturday.

The four-year-old mare is currently 17th in order of entry and thus guaranteed a Cup start in a maximum field of 18.

Duais, at her first start since bolting away with the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm on June 5, was an excellent third (with 56.5kg) to Ashman in the Group 3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) at Newcastle on September 17.

With champion mare Verry Elleegant’s defection from the Hill Stakes (she is instead contesting the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes, 2000m at Flemington on Saturday), Duais will have only six rivals.

She is currently a $5 co-second favorite behind $2 favorite Think It Over with

Cummings is delighted with his mare’s progress since her Newcastle resumption, and says she is ready to step up to a middle distance at the weekend.

“I’m very happy with her,” he said this afternoon. “All going well, she will be sent to Melbourne toward the end of next week to give her at least a week to settle in there.

“I haven’t got anyone on standby at this stage to ride Duais in the Caulfield Cup (regular rider Bowman cannot make her 51kg), but there are a few jockeys interested.”

Sunborn is one of eight horses (the others are Different Strokes, Daralina Belle, Verbek, Barossa Rosa, Conrad, Kiss Sum and Dalaalaat) already selected for The Four Pillars, a Benchmark 68 Handicap, to be run at the Golden Eagle meeting at Rosehill at the end of next month.

So far, she is the only Hawkesbury-trained horse to get a spot in the field.

Sunborn has a Benchmark 67 rating at present, and has won two (at Hawkesbury over 1300m on August 10 and again on her home track over 1400m on September 9) of her last four starts.

At her last run, she finished third to Margie Bee in a Benchmark 78 Handicap (1600m) at the metropolitan meeting at Gosford last Wednesday.

“Sunborn is in good form, and I’m thrilled to see her get an opportunity to run in The Four Pillars,” Cummings said.

“I may not need to run her again beforehand, but she could trial.”

Sunborn is a $26 chance for The Four Pillars, with Wyong-trained Conrad an early $7 favorie.

Along with Duais, Cummings also starts Prompt Prodigy (Glyn Schofield) in the Benchmark 88 Handicap (1600m) at Randwick on Saturday.

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