Cummings banks on Cups ‘king’ to strike gold
DUCA Valentinois, the provincial cups specialist, has the chance to deliver the all-powerful Godolphin stable an elusive win in the Group 3 $200,000 Livamol Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) on Saturday.
Godolphin (formerly Darley) has enjoyed considerable success at the premier Hawkesbury race day since it was introduced in 2006, winning feature races such as the Guineas, the Crown and Clarendon Stakes multiple times.
But trainer James Cummings is hoping to finally add the Hawkesbury Gold Cup to the mantelpiece with Duca Valentinois - a $6 chance in early TAB Fixed Odds betting behind Ecuador ($3.50).
Duca Valentinois, who began his race career in Ireland, found his niche in similar races last year, winning the Scone Cup and the Ladies' Day Cup at Hawkesbury.
Cummings believes Duca Valentinois is working his way back to winning form after three runs from a spell.
The gelding hasn't managed a place, but he's been competitive each start, including his closing seventh to Cellarman in the Doncaster Prelude four weeks ago.
"The horse has enjoyed a bit of a gap between runs and we feel he is starting to get to his peak fitness now," Cummings said.
"He is tackling a local mile race that should be right up his alley. We should be going to the race with a nice amount of confidence that he is going to run well."
Cummings also saddles up Ghisoni in the Group 3 $175,000 Godolphin Crown (1300m) and stablemate Beau Geste contests the Group 3 $200,000 Blacktown Workers Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m).
Ghisoni resumed from a long spell with a sixth behind Quilista in the Sapphire Stakes at Randwick and Cummings is predicting the classy mare will make her presence felt on Saturday.
"It would be great race to win with a mare of her calibre,'' the trainer said.
"She looks like she has thrived after the first-up run in the Sapphire Stakes at Randwick and although she meets pretty talented mares like White Moss here second-up, I think she can improve significantly enough to be very competitive in a suitable race."
Beau Geste goes into the Hawkesbury Guineas after three runs from a spell, including his last start sixth to Muraaqeb in the Carbine Club Stakes at Randwick.
Cummings believes Beau Geste is better suited coming back from the Randwick 1600m to 1400m at Hawkesbury.
"Not only is the colt going to be a little better suited at the shorter trip where he can just travel a little bit more comfortably, but he also tends to be a little more relaxed closer to home,'' he said.
"His trackwork was quite sharp and he looks ready to run a big race.''
Cummings's Godolphin stable is also chasing more feature-race success with talented Impending, who commences his last race campaign, before being retired to stud, in Saturday's Group 2 $200,000 Victory Stakes (1200m) at Doomben.
Impending won the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap last year and Cummings is setting the four-year-old a similar big-race preparation in coming weeks.
"Impending showed he had a heap of speed in his gallop at Osborne Park on Tuesday morning,'' Cummings said.
"He really looks set and ready to go first-up from a decent spell.
"We last saw him running beautifully against the best weight-for-age sprinters in the country in the Darley Classic (third to Redzel and Terravista) at the end of the spring in Melbourne.
"I think this is a really nice introduction to his preparation, which is going to hold plenty of promise for the stable with a horse like him who has a little bit left to do before he retires to the breeding barn."