Brilliant Avilius proves he can challenge for mantle of nation’s best
AVILIUS returned to his brilliant best and announced himself as a legitimate challenger for the nation’s best racehorse with an outstanding win at Royal Randwick yesterday.
Godolphin trainer James Cummings called Avilius’s win a “ripping performance” as he dominated a class field in the Group 1 $500,000 George Main Stakes (1600m). It was Avilius’s third Group 1 win this year and he is poised to claim the No.1 ranking vacated by Winx, winner of this race for the past three years.
Winx used the George Main Stakes to launch her Cox Plate-winning campaigns and it is the likely path Cummings will set Avilius.
“That was a Cox Plate effort today,’’ Cummings said.
“His first runs this campaign demonstrated he might have been more a Caulfield Cup horse but we have some thinking to do now. The horse is airborne. He was very impressive.’’
Avilius ($3.10 favourite) settled worse than midfield before Kerrin McEvoy took him wide on the turn where the gelding unleashed explosive acceleration to sweep past a gallant Dreamforce ($4) to win by a widening 2¼ lengths with evergreen Happy Clapper ($6) 1¼ lengths away third.
To underline the quality of the George Main field, finishing fourth, five and sixth were Group 1 winners Verry Elleegant ( Vinery Stud Stakes, ATC Australian Oaks), Angel Of Truth ( ATC Australian Derby) and Samadoubt ( Winx Stakes).
Avilius was beaten as favourite behind Samadoubt in successive races this spring but Cummings kept the faith.
“We haven’t lost any confidence in him,’’ the trainer said.
“He was third-up today and he had to be up to a certain level to put a horse like Dreamforce away.
“It was really good to see from our perspective a little bit of rain around this week and it was even better to see some pressure in the race.
“When Kerrin was able to sweep up into the race, he was going to be the strong horse late and we’re very proud of him to put Dreamforce away with that turn of foot.’’
McEvoy said he was “a little bit worried” by the lack of a genuine tempo early. “But I was able to get a bit of a trail up and he showed a good turn of foot,’’ he said.
“He likes that ground, he can still quicken in that ground.
“He’s done it at a mile here today but I think he is a typical 2000m to 2400m horse, which is what we learned in the autumn.
“To see him show that speed there today was a plus.’’