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Godolphin in Australia ends brilliant season in record-breaking territory

Mike Hedge

A glorious Australian racing season ended this week with Godolphin in uncharted territory and with head trainer James Cummings and his team having prepared an all-time national record of 62 Stakes winners for the year.

Cummings confirmed his position among the elite of Australian trainers by saddling eight G1 winners, the same number at G2, 20 at G3 and a further 26 Listed successes.

The performance capped a year in which the Godolphin royal blue was carried to victory in 12 Australian G1 races, and one in which the Cummings team prepared 223 winners across the nation.

“I’d have to say that breaking the Australian record for the number of Stakes wins in a season is the highlight,” Cummings said.

“Another is the dominance of our two-year-olds, which has attracted international attention with their performances, particularly in their grand-final races.”

Cummings won the G1 Golden Slipper with the filly Kiamichi who led home a Godolphin sweep of the placings and the G1 Sires’ Produce Stakes with Microphone, while Exhilarates won the Magic Millions Classic.

Add to that the win of the Anthony Freedman-trained Lyre in the G1 Blue Diamond Stakes and Godolphin won the four biggest two-year-old races on the Australian calendar.

Including the Freedman contribution of three winners of five races, 26 individual two-year-olds carried the royal blue to victory in 42 races.

All up, the locally-trained Godolphin runners won almost A$32 million for the season.

And when the victories of the UK-trained Cross Counter in the G1 Melbourne Cup, Best Solution in the G1 Caulfield Cup and Benbatl in the G1 Caulfield Stakes are taken into account, the total spins out to more than A$40 million won by Godolphin horses in Australia for the season.

The performances of the stable’s two-year-olds was only one part of the Australian picture.   

Among the older horses the former French middle-distance performer Avilius was the star of the team, winning two G1s among seven Stakes wins for the season.

“Avilius is one of a half-dozen nominations from the stable for the NSW Horse of the Year and along with our wonderful old performer Hartnell, he has performed very bravely and very well,” Cummings said.

“Every winner is a tribute to the team we have in the Sydney and Melbourne stables as well as the very talented people who break them in and educate them and send us such a fantastic selection of horses.

“But none of it could be done without Sheikh Mohammed’s support and vision.”

While Avilius headed the winning tally with eight victories for the season, the leading money earner was Osborne Bulls who finished second in five successive G1 races and was also third in Australia’s richest race, The Everest.

For Cummings though, there will be no resting on laurels as he plans for the new season and a new set of highlights.

“Probably the thing I’m looking forward to most of all is our two-year-olds turning three and continuing where they left off,” he said.

“We also have horses like Avilius, Hartnell, Osborne Bulls and Alizee coming back and a new team of two-year-olds.”

And the future isn’t far away, with Alizee pencilled in to resume racing in the G2 Missile Stakes at Rosehill on 10 August while Hartnell is due to make his traditional spring resumption in the G2 PB Lawrence Stakes at Caulfield a week later.

Avilius is likely to return in the G1 Winx Stakes (formerly Warwick Stakes) at Randwick on 24 August.