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Avilius and Bivouac ready to build on impresssive records at Randwick

Mike Hedge

For versatility, courage, consistency, and unquestioned ability, few horses in training can match it with Avilius.

And on Saturday at Randwick the former French-trained seven-year-old will be out to add a fourth G1 trophy to his collection when he attempts a repeat of his success of 12 months ago in the George Main Stakes.

On a card that includes the return of boom sprinter Bivouac in the G2 The Shorts, Avilius provides a gauge to the status of Godolphin’s Australian team.

“He’s become the battle-hardened warrior of the stable,” said his trainer James Cummings.

“When Avilius is winning, it means the stable is running well.”

Avilius (Hugh Bowman) made an eye-catching return to racing two weeks ago, slicing through the 15-runner field to finish fourth to Mister Sea Wolf in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes.

“I was delighted with his first-up run, it confirmed the confidence that had built up around a horse who is our weight-for-age mainstay.”

In a rare blemish on his record, Avilius went through his autumn campaign without a win.

But there is good reason to believe the horse who had won a Stakes race in France at his third-lifetime start and who won at his first four runs in Australia will rectify that situation in the George Main, a race he won in 2019.

Among those who finished behind him a year ago were Dreamforce and Verry Elleegant, both of whom oppose him on Saturday.

Also lining up against Avilius is stable companion Colette, the G1 ATC Oaks winner from last autumn, who is second-up.

“Her first-up run was encouraging, although you can expect to see different tactics employed on Saturday,” Cummings said.

“With her lack of experience she’s entitled to find it difficult against older, weight-for-age milers here, but we’re keen to see how she handles herself in a small but strong field.”

From a broader perspective, the reappearance of Bivouac (Hugh Bowman) carries great significance for Godolphin and Darley as the four-year-old begins a campaign that can further enhance his value as a Darley stallion prospect, a recored he established as a three-year-old with wins in the G1 Golden Rose and the G1 Newmarket Handicap.

“We regard Bivouac as the culmination of a process that been more than a decade in the making,” Cummings said.

Bivouac prepared for his return with a barrier trial from which his trainer says he has gone ahead.

“This is a good, strong race, but he hasn’t even taken a glance in the wrong direction since his trial,” Cummings said.

The Godolphin Stakes entry at Randwick is completed by Roheryn (Jason Collett) in the G3 Bill Ritchie Stakes and Thermosphere (Nash Rawiller) in the G3 Darley Tea Rose Stakes.

Roheryn’s prospects can be measured by his trainer's decision to also enter him for the G1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield.

Wherever he starts, Roheryn, an impressive last-start winner at Randwick, will be out to provide guidance to his immediate future.

“He’s yet to prove himself at the 1,400m, but if he can handle the challenge, it opens up a lot more options for him.”