Savatiano wins Canterbury Stakes, James Cummings edges out father Anthony Cummings for Group 1 win

Group 1 wins are always special but this was a family moment to savour for Godolphin trainer James Cummings.

Savatiano had held on to finally win at racing’s highest level in the $500,000 Canterbury Stakes (1300m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday, holding off the late surge of Mizzy, trained by James’s father, Anthony.

The two men embraced after the race. They have a friendly rivalry on the racetrack but family always comes first.

“It’s a bit cruel isn’t it,’’ James said when asked what it felt like to beat his father in a feature race.

Savatiano and @HugeBowman get the chocolates for @godolphin in an exciting edition of the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes! pic.twitter.com/akU5vcJKlP

Anthony Cummings didn’t want to take the shine of his son’s achievement: “I congratulate him – through gritted teeth!”

Savatiano ($3.80) gave Hall of Fame jockey Hugh Bowman his 98th career Group 1 when she just held off Mizzy ($71) to win by a short half head with Masked Crusager ($5.50) just over a length away third.

Bivouac, a stablemate of the winner, was sent out the $3 favourite and did plenty wrong during the race before finishing fourth.

It’s rare for Godolphin to race such well-bred and well-performed mares like Savatiano as six-year-olds, particularly after they had won five Group 2 races.

But Godolphin were keen to give Savatiano another chance to finally win at Group 1 level and she provided reward for persistence on Saturday.

“I think they have been thinking about retiring her for three seasons,’’ James Cummings said.

Savatiano gave Hugh Bowman his 98th Group 1 win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“But she is now a deserving Group 1 winner. She had won over $2 million in prizemoney without winning that Group 1 so outside of (The Everest winner) Classique Legend there wouldn’t be too many other horses around the world to do that.

“It’s a great effort by Savatiano. She had a perfect preparation for this race and she was the deserving winner.”

Bowman said Savatiano was “primed” for the Canterbury Stakes.

“It was a high quality race today and she’s been knocking on the door,’’ Bowman said. “She’s now a Group 1-winning mare so she’ll be very valuable for the Godolphin outfit.’’

Although Savatiano’s immediate race program is undecided, Mizzy is likely to back up in the Group 1 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens next Saturday.

“It’s disappointing to lose but she is going really well and the plan is to run her in the Coolmore,’’ Anthony Cummings said. “The 1500m around Rosehill will be perfect for her.’’

Bivouac reared and missed the start then over-raced early before but his effort to finish fourth convinced James Cummings the sprinter is on track for the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes during The Championships on April 3 at Royal Randwick.

Savatiano finally broke through for her first Group 1 win in the Canterbury Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

EDUARDO BREAKS NATURE STRIP’S HEART

“Eduardo — he’s WBS II.”

Translated, this means Eduardo is the world’s best sprinter Mark 2 — and trainer Joe Pride couldn’t resist producing the line at Royal Randwick.

Pride’s comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek and he made it once before when former stable sprint star Terravista was in his prime, but there was some justification for giving Eduardo the lofty rating after his win in the Group 2 $500,000 Challenge Stakes (1000m).

Eduardo and Nature Strip, who was the world’s highest-rated sprinter just a few months ago, had just sped around Randwick in a “drag” race that will be spoken about for years.

Nature Strip had a narrow lead for most of the straight but he couldn’t break away from a persistent Eduardo. The margin between the speedsters narrowed with every stride and right on the line Eduardo had edged back in front by the barest of margins.

It was a tremendous race but then the time was displayed: 55.20sec.

Most racegoers needed to take a second glance. And a third.

Track record! Eduardo gets the win in a thrilling Challenge Stakes. An incredible run down the straight by @nashhot for @PrideRacing! pic.twitter.com/laJoCu2yAx

Eduardo had smashed the Randwick 1000m record held by dual Everest winner Redzel by a scarcely believable 0.53s, which equates to about three lengths.

This doesn’t happen in 1000m sprint races, particularly at a major metropolitan racecourse. Nature Strip also broke the old track record by virtually the same amount but remarkably was beaten.

Pride, who part-owns Eduardo, has won bigger races during his successful training career but he hasn’t been this excited since his beloved South Sydney Rabbitohs won the 2014 NRL premiership, breaking their 43-year title drought.

“What a race, what a horse,’’ Pride said of Eduardo.

“When he got headed, I said ‘he’ll fight’. You could see he was in for the battle. It was an amazing performance. They’ve carved up the track record. He deserves all the accolades. I’m absolutely pumped. Amazing.”

Eduardo ($8.50) began brilliantly and crossed to find the rail and lead as Nature Strip ($1.95 favourite) cruised across to join him on the turn.

Nash Rawiller celebrates Eduardo’s win over Nature Strip in the Challenge Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Nature Strip took the lead coming up the rise and got a long neck, maybe a half-length, in front before Eduardo started to eat into the lead. On the line, it was Eduardo by a nose with nearly four lengths to Bella Vella ($26).

Pride bought Eduardo as a tried six-year-old last year and the gelding scored his third win in six starts for the stable. More significantly, he has been transformed into a world-class sprinter.

“After he ran that race in The Everest which we want to forget about, it wasn’t the horse’s fault, everyone had him down as a mad, bolting leader,’’ Pride said.

“But he’s not a hard-going horse, he’s actually a relaxed customer. He’s been a different horse to work with this preparation, full credit to all the team for getting this horse to switch off.

“He’s a seven-year-old racing more like a five-year-old. He’s a 100 per cent sound horse and hasn’t had a lot of racing.

“He’s going to be hard to beat in The Galaxy (1100m) in two weeks. He’s just beaten, on his day, probably the best horse in Australia over a sprint trip.’’

Eduardo gave Pride his fourth Challenge Stakes win and his second Randwick 1000m course record-winning time. The trainer won the race with Ball Of Muscle (2019) and Rain Affair (2012) and also with De Lightning Ridge, who ran 55.92s to set what was then a race and course record in 2010.

Joe Pride was all smiles after Eduardo’s win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Nash Rawiller, rider of Eduardo, had an interesting take on his sprinter’s stoush with Nature Strip.

“My bloke is like Fighting Harada trying to take on a heavyweight boxer,’’ Rawiller said.

“But he’s as tough as nails, the little horse. The horse jumped well and it was important he got into a lovely rhythm.

“There were ‘10’ leaders and I just thought if we kept our options open we might end up swinging across a lot easier than you’d think. I could tell at the 100m he was going to get there.’’

Nature Strip ran a sensational race. He had to cover a little more ground than Eduardo and didn’t shirk his task under pressure.

It was the 10th time Nature Strip has been beaten as favourite in his 29-start career and the fifth as an odds-on favourite but it is impossible to fault the sprinter’s effort, not when he stopped the clock at a stunning 55.21s and was still beaten!

Originally published asCummings pips father for more Group 1 glory

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