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Cummings hopeful Gravina can yo-yo into Hunter favour

3 minute read

One thing we’ve learned in the four years of the $1 million Newcastle Herald Hunter (1300m) it's beware anything Godolphin sends into Newcastle’s feature race.

Trainer JAMES CUMMINGS. Picture: Steve Hart

And in the absence of last year's winner Vilana, it's 'yo-yo' horse Gravina who has the job of attempting to go two better than 2022, turn around his form, and hand James Cummings a third win.

It's not lost on Cummings that Gravina, $26 with TAB on Thursday, rebounded from a failure at Flemington to run third in The Hunter a year ago, as a $17 chance, and said on RSN he's more than capable of making his presence felt.

"The thing in Gravina's favour is he's a horse who has turned his form around quickly in the past,'' Cummings said.

"I expected more of the horse in the same race 12 months ago at Flemington and he disappointed me that day.

"He turned it around and produced a big effort for third in The Hunter at his next start.

"He can prove to be a yo-yo horse, hopefully he can do that for us second-up this weekend."

Godolphin won the inaugural Hunter with Savatiano in 2019, Asiago ran third behind Sweet Deal in 2020, Kementari ran fourth to Lost And Running in 2021 before providing first and third last year.

Gravina has had 10 starts since his last win at Caulfield in October last year but he's bumped into some nice horses in that time including Everest winner Think About It in the Liverpool City Cup back in February and Opal Ridge in the Luskin Star Stakes at Scone to name a couple.

Cummings said things didn't work out for the gelding in the Group 3 Rising Fast (1200m) at Flemington two weeks ago, when finishing last to stablemate Spacewalk, but has been pleased with his progress.

"He went pretty poorly, but we made a little gear change and he just got squeezed coming out of the barriers and failed to chase hard,'' he said.

"He did train well during the week, he looks well and is training great.

"He did come off a sustained campaign last time in work, so we're hoping to see him get back into form down in the weights."

Eventual Golden Slipper runner-up Cylinder was beaten on debut in the NZB Airfreight Max Lees Classic (900m) a year ago so all eyes are on what the Godolphin duo of Gram and Efharisto might do on Saturday.

Gram is a full brother to dual stakes winner Zulfiqar while Efharisto, which means thank you in Greek, is a half-sister to Hunter winners Savatiano and Vilana.

It seems Cummings is leaning to the colt as being the top seed and the market sees it that way too as Gram is on the third line with TAB at $5 behind short priced favourite Market Magic.

"A lot to like about him but he's learning to put it all together," he said.

"He's got scope, he's got class about him and he moves well. He's got a lot of pace about him, got a turn of foot.

"He's stepping out to make his debut in a sharp race, but he's a sharp horse."

Both youngsters have trialled twice, and in their latest, at Hawkesbury on Monday, Efharisto was able to win with Gram finishing in third.

On Efharisto, Cummings said: "She's another one of these Blue Points who is showing plenty early.

"She's got a bit of growing to do, but she's got natural speed and can show it. I can see her running a race, also."

James Cummings on Portray (race 4): "She ran her PB for the prep last time and we feel like she's held that. She can reproduce it again, even though she has a bit of weight to carry. She's got to stretch it right out to seven furlongs, but she should give them something to chase."


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