With just 18 horses in work, Edward Cummings’ feat in preparing three individual Group 1 runners during the Queensland winter carnival is remarkable.
The young trainer captured his first major when Duais outclassed her Queensland Oaks rivals last weekend, and on Saturday at Eagle Farm he will saddle up Three Wise Men and Dark Rebel in the JJ Atkins (1600m). For a small stable with a small budget, it is a worthy achievement.
“It’s testament to the quality of animals we’ve been able to identify at the sales with a limited budget, and occasionally purely on speculation,” Cummings said. “We’re very proud of ourselves.
“We’ve also got Prompt Prodigy who is a Group horse. He was second in the Tulloch Stakes, and we think Sunborn is a stakes quality filly as well.”
While Duais was one of the leading Oaks fancies, this week has been a different experience for Cummings with Three Wise Men and Dark Rebel both at double-figure odds.
By first season sire Astern, Dark Rebel won his debut on a heavy track, then had a genuine excuse for his failure in the BTC Sires’ Produce Stakes when he got his tongue over the bit. Cummings believes a winter carnival campaign will give the colt an ideal foundation for what he hopes can be a fruitful three-year-old season.
How's that to get underway at Warwick Farm. Dark Rebel gets the win on debut at big odds! pic.twitter.com/Za3E1Pb3Vb— SKY Racing (@SkyRacingAU) May 12, 2021
Three Wise Men was initially passed in at the yearling sales before Cummings negotiated to buy him for $50,000, syndicating him among two long-time stable supporters with hopes he could get to the Magic Millions Classic.
“We all put our wives in the ownership on the basis he was a Magic Millions horse and eligible for the [female owner] bonus,” Cummings said. “It didn’t work out getting him into the Magic Millions, but the fact he’s here on Saturday in the mile race is a great Plan B.”
After an impressive second on debut at Newcastle, Three Wise Men was luckless at Kembla Grange when he missed the start and was unable to be tested in the straight, finishing seventh.
Three Wise Men showed his true colours with a strong third behind two of his Atkins rivals, Overmann and Volcanic Rock, over 1300m at Rosehill and Cummings is confident he can turn the tables on that pair over 1600m.
“His record could read better, but just because he hasn’t won a race it doesn’t mean he’s not good enough,” he said.
“This week, we’ve got two really nice, progressive young horses who will be better as time goes on whatever they do on Saturday.”