Prized Icon has landed a historic victory in the Victoria Derby, with James Cummings becoming the fourth generation of his fabled family to win the classic race.
The young trainer needed convincing to run the horse after he was soundly beaten a week ago, but Prized Icon ($17) took his place and was a dominant winner by 2-1/2 lengths.
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Cummings’ great-grandfather Jim won the Derby with Comic Court in 1948, his grandfather Bart won five, while his dad Anthony won with Fiveandahalfstar four years ago.
“I get a lot of confidence from the fact that my great-grandfather started training horses in 1911; there’s over 100 years of horse training excellence in the family,” Cummings said.
“That knowledge gives us confidence, but there are times when it wanes and there were times like Moonee Valley last week.”
He was referring to Prized Icon’s fifth in the Derby lead-up Vase when he suffered an early bump and failed to fire.
But the trainer paid tribute to jockey Glyn Schofield who produced a well-timed ride on Saturday to defeat the favourite Sacred Elixir ($2.70) and Inference ($9.50) in third.
“To win staying races like these horses just love to be in their own comfort zone, their own space, and today was just chalk and cheese from last week where this horse got none of that,” he said.
“Although winless (this campaign) before today, he just continued to show such strength and the miles and miles of Cummings training have kicked in.”
So could Prized Icon be back at Flemington in a year’s time and compete in another race with which the Cummings name is synonymous?
“I wouldn’t be talking about a Melbourne Cup (based on his breeding) … I might get into a little trouble like that,” Cummings said.
“We pay attention to how horses do need a little time to recover from a race like this and we certainly won’t be in a rush with this horse.
“He’s a valuable commodity, he’s gonna be close to my heart for the rest of my life — he’s my first Derby winner.”
Artie flies home to win showdown
Earlier, Flying Artie won the showdown of the nation’s top three-year-old sprinters in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (1,200m).
A $50,000 purchase, Flying Artie was the cheapest buy in the field and was sent out the least fancied of the “big four” according to punters at $10.
But his decisive victory from Astern ($2.80) and Star Turn ($4.60) secured his future as a stallion.
“The horse has always been a good horse and he’s had his excuses, especially in the blue Diamond, but today just franks him as a stud colt,” winning trainer Mick Price said.
“I couldn’t be happier.”
Price was full of praise for “genius” jockey Hugh Bowman who settled Flying Artie behind his rivals and had plenty to give as he weaved through the field to score by 1-1/4 lengths.
“He’s the real deal physically but I think mentally he appreciated being snugged in behind them and being exposed late and it was a dominant win,” Bowman said.
“It spells very exciting things for a bright future because that was a very strong race.
“His turn of foot was dynamic. When he got a bit of room he showed everyone what he has been showing the stable at home.”
Price said it was unlikely that Flying Artie would back up next Saturday against the older sprinters in the $1 million Darley Classic.
“I definitely don’t have to now as we stand here as a Group One winner and especially as he’s got a great autumn in front of him.”
The same sentiment was also expressed by trainers John O’Shea (Astern) and John Hawkes (Star Turn) who both offered no excuses and said they had been beaten by a better horse on the day.
Craig Newitt reported Extreme Choice, the stablemate of Flying Artie, would be a better horse round a bend and wasn’t suited being exposed down the Flemington straight.
Bowman would go on to complete a Group One double aboard Le Romain in the Cantala Stakes (1,600m), while I Am A Star became the first filly to beat the older mares in the Myer Classic (1,600m).