Australian Cup favourite Avilius ramped up his 2019 Autumn Carnival preparation with a quiet trial at Warwick Farm today.
Jockey Glyn Schofield never released the brakes on Avilius who went to the line under his own steam to finish sixth, three and a half lengths behind the winner Fiesta, in the 800m barrier trial on the course proper.
The James Cummings trained Avilius is one of seventy-five horses nominated for the Group 1 $1.5m Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 9 and has been installed as the $8 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au.
Cummings was pleased with the way Avilius pulled up after his hit out but will wait a little longer before committing to a return date back to the race track.
“We thought his effort was nice. He travelled comfortably against pretty fair opposition that are capable of being a lot sharper than Avilius, but he got to the line nicely and he really motored home the last 400m in good style and had nice healthy blow afterwards,” Cummings told Sky Sports Radio Racing HQ.
“He is quite a clean winded horse and that is going to help us going nice and easy in the early stages of his campaign.”
“I had to get him going if I am to have him ready for the ninth of February, but he will have to do well before committing him to that target.”
“He is a pretty casual track worker and he likes to just go through the motions, but he looks like he has come back strong. We are really pleased with the way he has returned.”
Cummings has some lofty heights set for Avilius during the Autumn Carnival after the five year old European import worked his way up through the grades during the 2018 Spring Carnival.
“He is going to be racing not far off weight for age company quite consistently this prep, even if it is only a short one and we need him to show improvement once he hits the high pressure.”
The first of Avilius’ four straight Spring Carnival wins came in a 1600m BenchMark 91 Handicap at Randwick at the beginning of August before stepping up in class to win the Group 3 $150,000 Premier’s Cup (1900m) at Rosehill three weeks later.
Avilius continued to handle the step up in grade to take out the Group 3 $160,000 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick before Cummings switch him to Melbourne to win the Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 6.
Cummings then gave the five year the ultimate test in the Group 1 $5m Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 27 where he finished seven and three quarter lengths behind Winx in fourth place.
Avilius had one more 2018 Spring Carnival outing but was a well beaten twenty-second to Cross Counter in the Group 1 $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6.
Cummings has also nominated Best Of Days ($16), Alizee ($18), Aramayo ($26) and Hartnell ($26) for the 2019 Australian Cup.
Early betting for the 2019 Australian Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $8 Avilius, $9 Extra Brut, $11 Homesman, $15 Johannes Vermeer, $16 Best Of Days, $17 Grunt, Rekindling, Unforgotten, $18 Alizee, Land Of Plenty, $21 D’Argento, The Taj Mahal, $26 Almandin, Amphitrite, Aramayo, Hartnell, Jaameh, Muntahaa, Nights Watch, Ringerdingding, Shillelagh, Sound Check, Stars Of Carrum, Trap For Fools, $31 or better the rest.