Grandson of the late great Bart Cummings, James Cummings celebrated his first Group 1 win as a trainer in his own right at Royal Randwick with the tough young Prized Icon getting the job done in the Champagne Stakes 2016.
A late nomination for this season’s $500,000 Group 1 Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes (1600m), beautifully-bred More Than Ready colt Prized Icon showed his tenacity saluting at elite level at his seventh career start and six run this time in.
Since a third on debut to subsequent Golden Slipper winner Capitalist in the Listed Breeders’ Plate (1000m) last October, Prized Icon has never finished out of the money.
This campaign he has been up since January, breaking his maiden status last weekend with a two length success in the Listed Fernhill Handicap (1600m) with Hugh Bowman in the saddle.
On the quick back-up the two-year-old made history seven days later becoming the first horse this century to complete the Fernhill Handicap – Champagne Stakes double.
Bowman jumped off the horse and opted to ride rival Chimboraa for David Payne in the Champagne Stakes, but was left chasing home Prized Icon and his hoop Glyn Schofield who celebrated his first win in the Group 1 mile classic.
“He’s kept his last and best run for this time of year,” Schofield said of Prized Icon.
“He’s just like an old hat, like a seven-year-old gelding, nothing fazes him.
“And he’s ended this campaign with a Group 1 win.”
It was an emotional Champagne Stakes result for Cummings, out to prove himself as a trainer in his own right, and he was thrilled to show what he and the stable can do.
“He’s a tough horse this horse, he’s loved his training all the way through,” Cummings said of the now very valuable stallion prospect Prized Icon.
“The stable can really train a two-year-old if given the chance.
“It’s great to get that Group 1 win for (connections) Gooree Stud.
“And More Than Ready, what a stallion.”
As for what his grandfather would have said about Cummings’ success?
“I think he’d say, ‘look to the future, self-praise is no recommendation, so you’ve said enough!’”, Cummings said.
It was the visiting New Zealand galloper El Sicario for ATC Derby winning trainer Trent Busuttin leading the Champagne Stakes field around this autumn, jockey Kerrin McEvoy having a hard time getting the horse to drop his head and settle.
Prized Icon was always away well and positioned himself into second behind the runaway leader who was out by six lengths at one stage, off and gone up front.
By the home turn, El Sicario had come right back to the field, and quickly dropped out of the race for the win.
Prized Icon ($4.20) went up to the front and held off late challenges from the likes of Faraway Town and eventual runner-up, Bowman’s mount Chimboraa ($10), becoming the first colt to win the race since Pierro (2012).
In third finishing off the Champagne Stakes trifecta was the Team Hawkes-trained Choisir colt Divine Prophet ($10) coming off a Kembla Grange win from March 23.
“He’s come out and done it,” Cummings said of Prized Icon.
“He’s had a great week, we’ve barley done anything with him.
“He’s rewarded us.
“What a tough horse, his first attempt at a Group 1 and he’s got up and got it done.”
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2016 Champagne Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 5 – 16/04/2016
|1||1||PRIZED ICON||James Cummings||Glyn Schofield||–||6||56.5kg||$4F|
|2||3||CHIMBORAA||David Payne||Hugh Bowman||1L||3||56.5kg||$9|
|3||6||DIVINE PROPHET||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||1.1L||9||56.5kg||$10|
|4||10||FARAWAY TOWN||Matthew Smith||Jay Ford||3L||7||54.5kg||$4.40|
|5||11||POP||Clinton McDonald||Brenton Avdulla||4.3L||4||54.5kg||$20|
|6||7||OBSCURA||John O’Shea||James McDonald||7.2L||1||56.5kg||$7|
|7||2||JAWS OF STEEL||Robbie Laing||Tye Angland||7.4L||2||56.5kg||$18|
|8||5||CROWN HIM||Anthony Cummings||Blake Shinn||9.6L||10||56.5kg||$12|
|9||4||EL SICARIO (NZ)||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Kerrin McEvoy||16.1L||8||56.5kg||$7.50|
|10||8||NORTH SKY||David Hayes & Tom Dabernig||Sam Clipperton||28.9L||5||56.5kg||$71|
|–||9||YANKEE ROSE||David Vandyke||Jason Collett||–||0||–||–|