Cummings and Melham shine on Australian Cup Day

25 March 2023 Written by Racing & Sports

James Cummings became the latest member of the family to join one of the most esteemed honour rolls in Australian racing history.

In front of a crowd of more than 11,000 people, Cummings produced stable favourite Cascadian to win the $3 million Group 1 event in its new home on the final Saturday in March.

The Australian Cup was a race Cummings’ legendary grandfather Bart won 13 times and he was cognisant of the significance of the win.

“I’m privileged as a young Cummings to be here on the big stage and have competitors in races like these,” he said.

“I had a very stern meeting with my brother Edward yesterday and talked to him about how I might be able to go about winning this and at the conclusion of it he said, ‘you go and win it this year and I’ll be back to win it next year’.”

Cummings saw Cascadian, a son of New Approach, further endear himself to Godolphin’s huge team when he broke his Flemington duck at his ninth attempt.

It was the third Group 1 win for the eight-year-old, to go with the Doncaster Mile and All Aged Stakes, and 11th win overall from 47 starts with his bankroll now sitting at $8,258,075.

“He deserves another big Group 1, he’s a wonderful horse and it’s a credit to his Highness Sheikh Mohammed to be winning a big weight-for-age race on a big day in Melbourne at Flemington,” Cummings said.

It was the first Australian Cup for Ben Melham, who was aboard Cascadian when second in the previous week’s $5 million All-Star Mile.

Melham’s partner Jamie Kah won the Doncaster on him but remains sidelined after her fall on Australian Guineas Day.

“I got a bit of advice off her how to ride him,” Melham said.

“It was special and more so for the horse as well, he’s been deserving of a Group 1 here at Flemington and what a race to do it in.”

What You Need a star in the making

Forty minutes before his Australian Cup success, Melham won the race many were looking forward to just as much as the day’s signature event aboard What You Need.

The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-trained gelding underlined his reputation as one of the most exciting sprinters in the country with victory in the $500,000 Listed Sunlight Classic (1100m).

The son of Supido stretched his record to three wins from as many starts with a one length win over Renosu and boom filly Benedetta in a performance that could be the stepping-stone to much greater riches.

“He’s lightly-raced but he’s a top-line colt, I’ve got no doubt about that,” Melham said.

What You Need’s win was the middle pin of a winning treble for Melham, who opened his winning account aboard the Cummings-trained Kallos in the $175,000 Listed ATA/Boy Hoysted Handicap.

Goldman gets golden ticket

Gai Waterhouse is eyeing a second Lexus Melbourne Cup after winning the first ‘golden ticket’ into this year’s race.

The Hall of Fame trainer produced untapped Kiwi-bred Goldman to win the first edition of the Lexus Roy Higgins that carried a Melbourne Cup ballot exemption.

Bookmakers expect the form will translate to the first Tuesday in November with the son of Verdi, who cruised home 2-3/4 lengths clear of Soulcombe under Jordan Childs, now favourite in some markets for this year’s big ‘two-miler’.

Waterhouse, who trains in partnership with Adrian Bott, said the four-year-old had done his job for the campaign and her biggest battle now could be containing the gelding’s owners’ excitement for the next seven-and-a-bit months.

“We’ll let the paddock worry about him and we’ll worry about him when he gets back…the owners are the biggest thing that need managing,” Waterhouse said.

The win was Goldman’s fourth in a row and third-straight this campaign, taking his overall record to five wins from seven starts.