Godolphin import Avilius remains unbeaten on Australian soil after surviving a protest to win the Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington today and gain an automatic entry in the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
The winner of The Bart Cummings is exempt from the ballot for the Group 1 $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6 and the James Cummings trained Avilius had a short half head to spare over the runner up Jaameh.
Connections of Jaameh ($14) fired in a protest after being second across the line after both horses came from well back in the field with Michael Walker on Jaameh searching for inside runs while Glyn Schofield steered Avilius in between horses to find his path to the winning post.
Walker told stewards during the protest hearing that Avilius had moved in in the last 100m and bumped his horse, which restricted him from riding Jaameh out as he had wanted, but the protest was dismissed.
Winning trained James Cummings will now map out a plan for Avilius to find his way back to Flemington for the first Tuesday In November after winning the race named after his famous grandfather, the Cups King, Bart Cummings.
“Today was about getting a run in the Melbourne Cup, now we can follow a path that we feel is best suited to the horse. Not chasing our tail with him,” Cummings said.
“We have options on the table and we will let the dust settle and I am sure the boys and I will come up with a good plan.”
“I am excited to have a horse in the cup and it is a very special moment.”
“He has had a great few months with us since arriving off the plane.” Cummings said.
“We have been patient with the horse all along. We tend to go for the small fish when they are there but there was a whale on the horizon if we could get an exemption in winning this race.”
“58.8kg, pushing his way into the clear. He sat a lot closer than he has been in a lot of his runs here in Australia.”
“He out knocked one to the line, which we thought was the horse to beat and a terrifically courageous performance from the horse.”
Avillius is now the $10 favourite for the Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au.