Avilius had his colours lowered the last time he was in Melbourne but James Cummings is confident the Godolphin pin-up galloper can atone in Saturday’s Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes (2000m) at Caulfield.
The three-time Group 1 winner was beaten out of the placings as the $1.65 favourite in the Australian Cup earlier this year, having won both his lead-up races at Caulfield in dominant style.
But with a string of feature wins in Sydney next to his name since the Flemington flop, including a brilliant last-start victory in the G1 George Main Stakes (1600m), Cummings thinks he’s the horse to beat in Saturday’s $1 million weight-for-age feature.
Avilius is rated the $2.30 favourite for Saturday’s race, which shapes as his final tune-up for the $5 million Cox Plate, for which he is the $6 second elect.
“The horse galloped beautifully at Caulfield on Tuesday morning,” Cummings said.
“He’s done particularly well since winning at Randwick and we are looking forward to seeing him over a journey where he is more adept.
“His wet-track form is exceptional, but he is no stranger to a dry track and has won a couple of times at Caulfield.”
And Cummings has no regrets about dodging the colts and geldings with gun filly Flit, who lines up as the $2.30 favourite in Saturday’s G1 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m).
The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro was disappointed for a run on several occasions when a beaten favourite in the Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) last start.
She is one of three Godolphin fillies in the race, alongside stablemate Tenley and Anthony Cummings’ Blue Diamond winner Lyre.
“Everything has gone smoothly since the Prelude and in hindsight the run she had appears to have topped her off perfectly,” he said.
“Some thought was given about running her against the colts, but we feel good about the decision to take this path.”