The opportunity to further enhance his lofty standing in Australian racing awaits Avilius (Kerrin McEvoy) when he runs in Saturday’s G1 Caulfield Stakes at Caulfield.
While the race is Avilius’s lead-up to the G1 Cox Plate two weeks later, trainer James Cummings is satisfied the horse widely regarded as the best in training in Australia is primed to do his part at Caulfield and again at Moonee Valley.
“In so many ways Avilius has been a fantastic horse to have in the stable,” Cummings said.
“He came to us in great condition from Andre Fabre in France and he showed us his best form as soon as we asked him to."
“He was knocked down in the Melbourne Cup but came back to racing without any issues and started again and then finished off last autumn with two fantastic G1 wins.”
Those victories came in the G1 Ranvet Stakes and the G1 Tancred Stakes, both at Rosehill and since then he’s added a third G1 in the George Main Stakes over 1,600m at Randwick last month.
If Cummings has a slight concern it is the firmness of the Caulfield track, but he points out that Avilius has performed on all surfaces.
“He’s no stranger to a dry track. He’s won a couple at Caulfield on good-rated tracks and in Sydney he won his first three races on dry ground."
“It would be nice if there was some rain, but I’m expecting it to be firm and for him to run well on whatever track he gets."
“He’s done very nicely since winning at Randwick and we’re looking forward to seeing him step up to a distance that he’s even more suited at.”
Avilius galloped at Caulfield on Tuesday, pleasing his rider, Godolphin’s Melbourne stable foreman Sean Keogh.
"He doesn't mind a bit of rain and a bit of juice in the ground and the track was beautiful this morning,” Keogh said.
“We're very happy with him. He looks terrific."
A strong international field will oppose Avilius, including the Godolphin visitor Dream Castle (Pat Cosgrave), trained by Saeed bin Suroor who prepared last year’s Caulfield Stakes winner Benbatl.
“Dream Castle did all his serious work in Newmarket before heading out to Australia and took the journey down under very well,” bin Suroor said.
“This looks a tough race but he is a class horse and we are hoping that we can win it again.”
The Cummings stable will also be represented by the mares Resin (Craig Williams), Demerara (Kerrin McEvoy) and Manicure (Hugh Bowman) in the G3 Northwood Plume Stakes and Athiri (James McDonald) in the G3 Thoroughbred Club Stakes.
Cummings regards each as a genuine prospect.
“Manicure has continued to please after a strong first-up performance, she’s a strong mare and has thrived this campaign,” he said.
“Both Demerara and Resin failed to flatter in the Bobbie Lewis, but they’ve have had their runs nicely spaced and can improve.”
“Athiri ran an excellent race in the Cap D’Antibes and has continued to thrive.”
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