Godolphin’s classy six-year-old Avilius proved too good at Randwick on Saturday claiming the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) – much to the delight of punters who jumped aboard the favourite.
In a race Winx made famous, the James Cummings-trained gelding came off the bit early down the straight to go on and win comfortably by a length and a half.
Samadoubt, this year’s Winx Stakes winner, dictated the pace early, but with next to no speed in the race, Avilius had it all too easy from a wide draw.
The British import was third-up on Saturday after running second in last fortnight’s Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes over the mile. With some soft track form, the $3.00 available at Ladbrokes turned out to be great value.
Cummings now has some decisions to make going forward as Godolphin looks ahead to bigger races in the Spring. Avilius could potentially lineup in the Ladbrokes Cox Plate (2040m) for the second straight year, a race Cummings has been targeting after running fourth behind Winx in 2018.
“That was a Cox Plate effort today but his first runs this campaign demonstrated he was more a Caulfield Cup. We have some thinking to do. He’s airborne” Cummings said.
“We’ve been confident in the horse all the way along. We haven’t lost any confidence in him. A great ride from Kerrin to bring him into the race off that kind of pressure. It’s what we needed to see.”
The last horse to complete the George Main-Cox Plate double before the mighty mare was Kingston Town in 1981/82. Not surprisingly, Avilius has since firmed from $10.00 into $7.00 ahead of the Cox Plate on October 26.
Happy Clapper, who was also well backed with wet track form on his side, finished strongly for third on Saturday. Dreamforce also found the line strongly after sitting second for most of the trip.
As for winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy, he was equally impressed with Avilius’ speed.
“The Group 1’s are what we all aim for and it was good to see him do that today after a bit of a torrid run last time in transit. He still ran gallantly and today we got a nicer run and we got some ground that really suited him and he was able to show that really good turn of foot, and I was confident he was going to pick them up” McEvoy said.
“They are no slouches those horses that were in front of me. I was standing up sort of five lengths as we turned for home, and he had to pick up quickly and sustain it and that’s exactly what he did.”