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  • Provincial Racing NSW


TRIPLE Group 1 winning trainer Edward Cummings will attempt to “do a Duais” with today’s Wyong winner Hippy Dreams.

Having only her third start and ridden by Hawkesbury apprentice Zac Wadick, Hippy Dreams ($1.90 favorite) came from last to easily defeat her four rivals in the Midway Maiden Plate (1600m).

A three-year-old daughter of Divine Prophet, she is a half-sister to nine-times winner Ellsberg, who dead-heated with Top Ranked in the 2022 Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) at Royal Randwick.

And that’s where Hawkesbury-trained Hippy Dreams (pictured above) is heading next weekend.

Cummings is keen to run her in the Group 3 Adrian Knox Stakes (2000m) on the opening day of The Championships, and the $1m Group 1 ATC Australian Oaks (2400m) there a week later if she performs well in the former.

It’s a grand plan indeed but nothing new to him.

Cummings almost pulled it off before with his classy now retired mare Duais, with whom he won three times at racing’s elite level.

Duais, after winning a midweek Benchmark 72 Handicap (1600m) at Warwick Farm in 2021, 10 days later won the Adrian Knox before backing up the following week when runner-up to Hungry Heart in the Oaks.

She then won the Queensland Oaks (2200m) at Eagle Farm seven weeks later.

Whilst Cummings naturally was delighted with Hippy Dreams’ breakthrough – his 10th winner of the season - he was also smiling toward the end of the program when his Group 1 placegetter Strait Acer showed a brilliant return to form to qualify for the $1m Provincial-Midway Championships Final (1400m) at Randwick on the same day as the Oaks.

Though beaten by fellow Hawkesbury trainer Brad Widdup’s Ausbred Flirt ($3.50 favorite), Strait Acer ($5) was outstanding in snatching second placing on the line, coming from a seemingly impossible position.

After settling second last from his wide draw, Strait Acer (Koby Jennings) began a searching run from the 600m but was pushed very wide on the home turn before balancing up and storming home.

“It was a terrific run and very pleased to see him do that today,” Cummings said en route home.

“That should condition him nicely for the Final.”

Strait Acer had been an early favorite for the PMC Final, but lost some caste when only sixth to Territory Express in the opening 1400m Qualifier at Kembla Grange on February 29.

Story John Curtis, March 30, 2024 - Pics Bradley

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