Head trainer achieves milestone with Team Godolphin with three Stakes winners

David Murray
Dave Murray

A 12th Group 1 victory for the season may have eluded him, but head trainer James Cummings was delighted to crack the half-century of Stakes winners for 2022-23 when Character, Athelric and Red Card saluted for Godolphin in two states on Saturday, 13 May.

While Aft Cabin and Vilana finished just behind the placegetters in the G1 Doomben 10,000 in Brisbane, Cummings paid credit to “a great effort” from his team after celebrating 50 Stakes wins so far this season.

Character bounced back to his best form and collected his third Stakes victory when he won the Listed Members’ Handicap over 1600m at Doomben.

The G2 Tulloch Stakes and G2 Queensland Guineas winner from last year wore down Bigboyroy to score by a long neck with Santero finishing third, another half-length away.

Jockey Ben Thompson rode a patient race on the gelding, only leaving the fence in the final 300m.

“Character had been a while between drinks and he’d been threatening to do something for his last couple of preparations,” Cummings said.

“But holding him back and placing him well in the latter part of the autumn in Brisbane has paid dividends.

“More than that, it’s rewarding for the staff at Osborne Park and the travelling team in Brisbane who put their hearts and souls into looking after horses like Character.

“They’ve helped rejuvenate the horse and get him enthusiastic enough to hit the line the way he did today.

“I think we’ve learnt our lesson with Character. I think he likes fast miles - but nine furlongs is OK.”

The victory took Character’s record to five wins and five placings from 26 starts.

Athelric also found his best form when he won the Listed Ortensia Stakes over 1,100m at the Scone standalone Saturday meeting.

Boom apprentice Dylan Gibbons placed Athelric raced behind the leaders until the home turn before bursting to the lead and holding off the fast-finishing Quantico. Andermatt was third, a half-length further away.

“Athelric is an Exceed And Excel four-year-old who is just improving enough to carry the bigger weights in these handicap sprints at this level, but he’s done a great job to win another Stakes race,” Cummings said.

“I might keep him down there for a June Stakes, a Ramornie (Grafton), or bring him up for one of the sharp events up here.

“There are options for Athelric, but he’s just now learning to carry the big weights and sprint well.

“He showed a fair bit of bottom this afternoon and I was pleased to see it.”

It was Athelric’s second Stakes win and the four-year-old now has seven wins and four placings from 23 starts for earnings of $853,730.

Red Card banked her first Stakes victory when she won the Listed Denise’s Joy Stakes at Scone and could have booked a trip to the Brisbane winter carnival.

Jockey Sam Clipperton jumped the three-year-old from a wide gate to park in third spot behind the leaders before challenging at the top of the home straight.

Red Card sprinted quickly to easily beat Written In Code by 2.5 lengths, with Ojai another 1.25 lengths away in third place.

The winner clocked a sizzling 1 minute 2.02 seconds for the 1,100m journey - including a final 600m in 33.42 seconds - in notching her fourth win with two placings from just nine starts. 

“Red Card, with a trail was like a brand-new horse,” Cummings said.

“She looked like a horse with Black Type all over her.

“She improved second-up and it’s outstanding to get a new Stakes winner.

“She could easily go up to Brisbane, she’s only been lightly raced this prep.

“A trip to Queensland won’t hurt her, but there’s something to be said for planning around what’s there for next preparation.”

Cummings said “Any day that Godolphin is able to win three Stakes races is outstanding for our team” but his enthusiasm grew after watching Aft Cabin and Vilana perform credibly in the Doomben 10,000.

“I think on a bigger track (Eagle Farm) both will be more effective,” he said.

“It goes without saying that Aft Cabin will be very interesting down in the weights with 50 or 51kg in a (G1) Stradbroke Handicap.

“Vilana, in two weeks, will be nicely in his comfort zone at 1,300m in the (G1) Kingsford-Smith Cup and there’s a lot to be said for targeting both horses at those lofty heights.”