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Avilius returns from Cup disaster with brilliant G3 win

Mike Hedge

One of Godolphin’s revelations of last spring returned to racing at Caulfield on Saturday with a performance that seems bound to make him one of the brightest stars of the Australian autumn. 

Avilius, a former resident of Andre Fabre’s Chantilly stable, made a huge impression when he won first up at Randwick last July and then reeled off another three wins on end that earned him a place in the G1 Melbourne Cup.

That race ended for Avilius soon after it began when he suffered severe interference.

But he showed he had overcome that setback when he surged through the field in the final 100m of Saturday’s G3 Carlyon Cup to score a compelling victory.

On a day when a new pair of Godolphin two-year-olds announced themselves with wins at Warwick Farm and Caulfield, and high-class colt Kementari finished second in the G1 C F Orr Stakes, Avilius’s triumph was a clear highlight.

“He’s done a great job. He has a great amount of heart,” said trainer James Cummings.

Avilius is likely to have only three runs in his current preparation with the next of them in the G2 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday, 23 March followed by the G1 Australian Cup at Flemington two weeks later.

“I’m of the view that a light autumn will suit him nicely,” Cummings said.

“We’ll then be looking at the best weight-for-age races of the spring, he may not have anywhere to hide by then, so WFA racing will be his future.

Also at Caulfield, Lyre (Anthony Freedman/Damian Lane) scored impressively in the G2 Blue Diamond Prelude for fillies, staking her claim for a place in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes.

Lyre forged to the front at the 50m and held on to score by a long neck from Vinicunca with a further neck to another Godolphin filly, Athiri, in third place.

In Sydney, Bivouac won the Darley Lonhro Plate at Warwick Farm with a performance that suggested he was a worthy member of a family that includes the champion fillies Guelph, Camarena and Camarilla.

Saturday’s successes were accompanied by some encouraging placings with Kementari finishing second in a G1 at Caulfield for the third time.

 Cummings said he was satisfied with the effort and plans a return to Sydney for the son of Lonhro where the G1 Canterbury Stakes at Randwick in four weeks will be his goal.

“I thought the horse ran boldly. He hit the line well and I think he’ll go better again second up,” he said.

Kementari was chased to the line by another import, Best Of Days, a G1 winner from last spring who will be chasing further top-level honours in the autumn, possibly in the G1 Doncaster Handicap.

“His run was outstanding, he could well be a Doncaster horse,” Cummings said.

Best Of Days is also a candidate for the A$5 million All-Star Mile at Flemington on Saturday, 16 March.