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Pedigrees of both types to the fore in Oaks success

6 min read
Duais' (Shamus Award) dominant win in Saturday's G1 Queensland Oaks not only etched another chapter in the remarkable story of the Cummings family in Australia, it also added another elite success to an equine family which has proven one of the most successful in the Studbook.

Edward Cummings now sits alongside brother James, father Anthony and legendary grandfather Bart as a Group 1-winning trainer, while Bart's own father Jim was winning Australia's best races a long time before Group 1 status was formalised in the 1970s, including success in a Melbourne Cup with Comic Court (Powerscourt) in 1950.

It’s a family legacy that is nearly impossible to live up to, but Edward, who trains a small team from Hawkesbury, became the latest Cummings to achieve that status. He used every bit of his famed family horsemanship to guide Duais through her narrow defeat in the G1 Australian Oaks, off a seven-week break into Saturday's Eagle Farm race, where she stormed over the top of her rivals to win by a widening 2.5l.

Remarkably, it was Cummings' 17th winner under his own name and 146th runner overall since he went out under his own name in early 2019. The partnership with his father Anthony had yielded 49 winners in three seasons, the best of which was Sky Boy (Pendragon {NZ}) in the G2 Villiers S.

That it was a Classic race in which Cummings secured his maiden Group 1 success seems appropriate when you consider the family have been winning races of that nature for a very long time, with Jim Cummings successful in the Victoria Derby in 1949.

Bart Cummings made the Classic races his own, winning 32 Derbies and 24 Oaks, including a Queensland Oaks with Round The World (NZ) in 1987, while Anthony Cummings has a Victoria Derby and South Australian Derby to his name among his 20 Group 1 wins.

Anthony and Edward Cummings

James Cummings, now Godolphin's head trainer in Australia, already has 27 Group 1 wins to his name, including Victoria Derby success with Prized Icon in 2015 and now Edward has become the latest Classic-winning trainer for the family.

Edward told RSN on Sunday that James was one of the first ones on the phone after Duais' win.

"I spoke to James and I think he was pretty happy. There was a message from Dad saying 'bloody fantastic', so I think he was happy too. I've had a lot of messages from extended family as well," he said.

"We will be keen to get back and have lunch during the week with everyone and celebrate properly with the family."

"We will be keen to get back and have lunch during the week with everyone and celebrate properly with the family." - Edward Cummings

Anthony Cummings praised Edward for becoming the latest member of the famous family to train a Group 1 winner.

“He started from scratch and he’s been able to do this in pretty quick time," Anthony told

"He needed to get out and do it on his own. We had that discussion and that’s what he did and that gives us all a great deal of satisfaction that he could do something like this.

"He had to go out and be confident and sell himself and find the horses to have something to deal with.”

Duais looks like a filly in which Cummings can build a career in his own right. It’s a measure of the changing face of Australian racing that Cummings is considering targeting rich races such as the Golden Eagle as a 4-year-old, rather than the traditional Cups path which his grandfather pursued with such success with his champion fillies and mares in a previous era.

Filly follows trainer in blueblood connections

The parallels between Duais and her trainer in terms of their rich family lineage are there for all to see when you dive into her pedigree. She may be a homebred, from a maiden-winning mare who cost just $22,000 as a yearling, but she is a direct descendant from one of the most influential broodmares of the 20th century.

Fanfreluche (Can) (Northern Dancer {Can}) was a Champion racehorse in Canada and the United States in the 1960s and 70s. Purchased for $US1.2 million (AUD$1,550,788) as a broodmare, and famously kidnapped at one stage, she would produce five stakes winners, including Grade 1 winner L'Enjoleur (Can) (Buckpasser {USA}).

Her influence has grown from generation to generation, with 11 stakes winners produced from her daughters and 19 from her maternal granddaughters. The fourth maternal generation has featured a remarkable 35 global stakes winners, while there are 20 in the fifth generation, three in the sixth and one in the seventh.

All in all, there are 94 stakes winners which feature Fanfreluche in their maternal line, with 19 of them Group/Grade 1 winners.

Duais is one of a group of six Australian Group 1 winners descended from Fanfreluche, the others being Flying Spur, Encosta De Lago, Russian Revolution, Pear Tart (Dehere {USA}) and I Am A Star (I Am Invincible), while G1 New Zealand Derby winner Sherwood Forest (Fastnet Rock) also features her on his damline.

There are 36 stallions globally that fit this category, including Flying Spur and Encosta De Lago, who have been massively influential in Australia in the past 30 years. That list also includes significant international stallions such as Lode (USA), Holy Roman Emperor (Ire) and Golden Voyager (USA) while Newgate's Russian Revolution is set to have his first runners in the 2021/22 season.

Flying Visit the source of success

Duais' aspect of that family came to Australia in 2002, with her grandam Flying Visit (USA) (Fly So Free {USA}), a granddaughter of Fanfreluche, purchased by Emirates Park for $110,000. The unraced mare produced six winners, including Meerlust (Johannesburg {USA}), who was secured by Matthew Irwin for $22,000 at the 2009 Inglis Scone Yearling Sale.

Trained by Sue Grills at Tamworth for an ownership group that included Irwin and Peter Harris and his family, Meerlust would win one of her five starts before knee injuries ended her career.

Irwin and Harris then decided to breed with her and it has proven a brilliant decision, with her third foal, Baccarat Baby (Casino Prince), a dual stakes winner for David Vandyke, including a G3 Sunshine Coast Guineas.

Baccarat Baby as a yearling

Being by a son of Flying Spur, Baccarat Baby is linebred to Fanfreluche, and at last month's Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale she was an astute purchase by Spendthrift Australia for $650,000. She is headed to their first season sire and son of Written Tycoon, Dirty Work, in her first season.

Duais may not carry that double-cross to the blue-hen mare, but the residual value of the daughter of Shamus Award, should Irwin and Harris decided to sell her, would be even greater as a Group 1 winner. Two of the past four winners of the Queensland Oaks have sold for seven-figure amounts.

It's also a huge boost for Duais' full sister, Amity Gal, a 2-year-old who Harris and Irwin also own and while unraced, has been in work for Vandyke.

Meerlust has missed at her past two mating attempts and visited Vinery Stud's All Too Hard last season, the resultant foal of which would, like Baccarat Baby, be line-bred to Fanfreluche.

Shamus Award sire of Duais | Standing at Rosemont Stud

Edward Cummings
Anthony Cummings
Bart Cummings
James Cummings
Jim Cummings
Shamus Award