A mare who holds a special place in Matt Cumani’s career has made her way back to the trainer’s care for a shot at the Tattersall’s Cup in Brisbane.
After a four-run New Zealand campaign in recent months, six-year-old Etah James returns to Australian racing in Saturday’s Group Three Tattersall’s Cup over 3000m at Eagle Farm.
Cumani trained the New Zealand-bred Etah James for her first 15 starts after she was sent to him by her part-owners and breeders.
The mare, who made her debut in Victoria in April 2017, won six of her first 10 starts highlighted by the 2018 Group Three Lord Reims Stakes in Adelaide, Cumani’s first stakes race success.
After failing to fire during the 2018 spring, Etah James returned to New Zealand and did her recent racing for trainer Mark Lupton, one of her owners.
Cumani is looking forward to seeing what Etah James produces on Saturday.
“To be honest it was a bit of a surprise,” Cumani said.
“She wasn’t performing well last spring so we sent her back to New Zealand.
“The plan was probably just to give her time off and then look at breeding from her, but the guys there thought that she was doing so well they thought they would give her another go.
“She put in some pretty creditable performances, especially last time out when second in a 2200 metre race (Ellerslie, June 1).
“Zacada was third so it was pretty good form and they thought she was going well so why not have a go at that 3000 metre race.”
Etah James has been in Queensland for a couple of weeks and Cumani says she is in great shape.
“I’m really happy with her,” he said.
“Full credit to Mark and his team because he’s got her really fit.
“It will be fascinating to see how she goes. She’s an old favourite. She was my first Group winner and it would be nice if she could get another one.”
Cumani said the connections seemed open-minded about future plans.
“If she goes really well she could stay up there for another Cup race later on. Or if she wins really well she could come down to Melbourne,” he said.
“Equally if she doesn’t perform then I’m sure they’d be happy to go back and breed from her this year.”