Descarado stood between Avienus and a Caulfield Stakes victory a fortnight ago but today allowed her a start in Saturday’s $3m Group 1 W S Cox Plate(2040m) at Moonee Valley.
Trainer Gai Waterhouse scratched an injured Descarado and now the Mark Webb- trained mare, who is first emergency, races in Australia’s premiere weight-for-age event for a second time.
Avienus is a $61 long shot but that second run behind Descarado demands greater respect.
“I think she warrants to be the price going into a Group 1 after coming from handicaps but her run when second to Extra Zero two starts ago was terrific and I thought she would run in the first four in the Caulfield Stakes – but she even surprised me,” Webb said.
“Not a lot of horses made ground on the day (Caulfield Stakes day) but she did and it was a very good performance.
“She has won a Group 2 at Moonee Valley over the mile and ran some very good races there when drawn poorly.”
In Avienus’s last five starts at Moonee Valley she has drawn inside barrier 10 just once.
“She seems to draw poorly at the Valley and she has drawn wide again in 14.
“I will leave it up to Brad (Rawiller) to where she settles, he is a good jockey, it is his job and he is up to it.
“He has free rein, if he rides for luck she will need a bit of it.
“She has a 400 metres sprint and does that very well, if Brad goes forward he will have to cop sustained pressure the whole way.
“For a smaller mare she carries weight well in a weight for age race and she tends to race well at both Moonee Valley and Caulfield.
Avienus finished sixth in last year’s Cox Plate behind So You Think when beaten four and three quarter length but Webb is expecting more this year in what appears to be an easier field.
“I have trained her for 2000m this year whereas last year I was training her to win a 1600m to get into the Cox Plate,” Webb said.
“This year we thought we would bite the bullet and said we either get into the Cox Plate or not and I trained her as if she would.
“She has copped it better as well as last year she was a bit of a picky eater but this year she is all good.
“While her record says she may be best on wet tracks, I honestly think she is better on top of the ground.
“I think Helmet is the one to beat but I’m not sure about the New Zealanders.
“They are certainly top horses but it is hard to line up their form.
“Some Kiwis are said to be champions like Sunline, Kiwi and Veandercross, come over here and go bang!
“Others who are considered champions come here and don’t make it – they are still great horses but it is hard to line up the form.
“If she (Avienus) can run up to her Caulfield Stakes run and have a bit of luck, she will be right in it up to her eyeballs.”