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Lightly raced in-form stayer Avilius will be looking for a direct path into the 2018 Group 1 $7.3m Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 6.

Avilius, above. will run in The Bart Cummings at Flemington. Photo by Steve Hart.

Avilius, above. will run in The Bart Cummings at Flemington. Photo by Steve Hart.

Trainer James Cummings has decided to miss the Group 1 $750,000 Heineken 3 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on September 29 and is hoping Avilius can win the Group 3 $300,000 The Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington on October 6.

The winner of The Bart Cummings is exempt from the ballot for the Melbourne Cup and the way the French import is performing of late with a hat trick of wins, will guarantee he is one the favourite for the Melbourne Cup qualifier.

“We feel that giving Avilius a look at Flemington with the hope of gaining a start in the Melbourne Cup is the right way to go with the horse,” Cummings said.

“We discussed this as a team and are confident this is the best lead up to the Cup and we are all extremely excited to be going down this path.”

Avilius started his career in France and was able to record two wins there before being transferred to Godolphin’s Australian stables under the care of James Cummings.

The five year old gelding has been undefeated from three starts for Cummings and has progressed nicely through the ranks with a win in a 1600m BenchMark 91 Handicap at Randwick on August 18 followed by a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Premier’s Cup (1900m) at Rosehill on August 25 and a win in the Group 3 $160,000 The Agency Real Estate Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 15.

Avilius is currently 57th in the order of entry for the Melbourne Cup with 53kg and Cummings is hoping to secure a place in ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’ with a win in the race that carries the name of this famous grandfather, Bart Cummings.

Avilius is the shortest price Australian trained horse at $16 in the pre-post betting for the Melbourne Cup with Ladbrokes.com.au behind the European stayers Magic Circle at $12 and Cross Counter and Torcedor at $14.

Also marked at $16 alongside of Avilius is the Aidan O’Brien trained Flag Of Honour and Darren’s Weir’s English import Kings Will Dream.

The Aidan O’Brien trained stayers Flag Of Honour and Kew Gardens both received a Melbourne Cup weight penalty for their Group 1 wins last weekend.

Flag Of Honour was penalized 1.5kg and will now carry 52.5kg in the Melbourne Cup after his win in the Group 1 €500,000 Irish St. Leger (2816m) at the Curragh in Ireland while Kew Gardens has been re-handicapped to 54kg after being penalized 1kg for his win in the Group 1 £743,000 St Leger Stakes (2922m) at Doncaster in England.

Early betting for the 2018 Melbourne Cup at Ladbrokes.com.au: $12 Magic Circle, $14 Cross Counter, Torcedor, $16 Avilius, Flag Of Honour, Kings Will Dream, $18 Chestnut Coat, Withhold, $21 Hamada, Latrobe, $26 Best Solution, Count Octave, Duretto, Kew Gardens, Marmelo, Max Dynamite, Orderofthegarter, Thomas Hobson, $31 or better the rest.

About The Author

Mark Mazzaglia

Mark is a passionate journalist with a life-time involvement in the racing industry. He spent many years as an analyst and form expert at the Courier Mail and also has hands-on experience working with some of Queensland’s top trainers.