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Avilius ready to resume where he left off in G1 Winx Stakes

Mike Hedge

The return to racing of Godolphin’s Australian flag-bearer Avilius arrives at Randwick on Saturday with trainer James Cummings cautiously realistic about the horse’s chances in the G1 Winx Stakes.

Avilius has won eight races from 11 Australian starts, finishing off his autumn campaign with G1 victories in the Ranvet Stakes and the Tancred Stakes.

He has tuned up for his reappearance with two barrier trials, the latest a most impressive winning hit-out at Rosehill.

“It’s a pleasure to have him back in training after going out on such a high,” Cummings said.

“His preliminaries have been just perfect. We saw a glimpse of how that’s been unfolding in his Rosehill trial.”

Avilius has opened each of his two Australian campaigns with a win, and Cummings is satisfied he is forward enough to run well again over Saturday’s 1,400m trip.

“By my estimation, and without getting too carried away, he should run a nice race,” he said.

“But the effort he put in last season will be hard to replicate. He’ll be matching it with better horses  at every start, there’ll be nowhere to hide.”

“The pressure of a G1 return at 1,400m is a bit different. It’s one thing to expect him to run a nice race and sail home in a G3 like he’s done previously, but it’s another thing to saddle up in a G1.“

“It’s another dimension, it’s about how he copes. No doubt he’ll be dissected and closely analysed.”

Avilius is likely to follow a similar program to last spring when he ran in two of Australia’s most coveted races, the G1 Cox Plate and the G1 Melbourne Cup.

After finishing a fine fourth to Winx in the Cox Plate, he was knocked out of the race after 600m in the Melbourne Cup, only to bounce back in the autumn and win four races.

On Saturday he is accompanied by another G1 winner Best Of Days who produced the highlight of his career to win the G1 Kennedy Mile at Flemington last spring and then refused to jump away at his latest appearance in the G1 Futurity Stakes won by stablemate Alizee in February.

Cummings is satisfied that incident was an aberration.

“I’ve got be optimistic and I’m expecting the horse to reflect that positive attitude,” he said.

“We’ve given him plenty of time and I’m expecting our patience to have results. But I can say that he’s pleased me.”