It’s Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) forms part of Super Saturday at Flemington with two Melbourne Cup winners in the line-up.
Avilius is in red hot form with the Godolphin galloper a strong favourite. Can he be stopped by former Melbourne Cup winners Almandin and Rekindling?
We take a look at the Flemington feature.
1. ALMANDIN ($18.10): The 2016 Melbourne Cup winner resumes for the first time since running down the track in the Sydney Cup almost a year ago. His last first-up run was outstanding, he ran second and was beaten a nose behind Homesman in the Victoria Cup (2000m) at Caulfield. By all reports, the nine-year-old is flying back at Macedon Lodge so I’m expecting a forward showing.
2. REKINDLING ($12.10): The main danger to Avilius looks to be the 2017 Melbourne Cup winner, Rekindling. The lightly-raced five-year-old hasn’t been seen since winning the Melbourne Cup 486 days ago. Looking at his international form, the 2000m first-up shouldn’t be an issue, as he beat Yucatan over 2011m at Leopardstown before running fourth over 2062m at York behind the likes of Benbatl. He looks a good each-way play.
7. AVILIUS ($1.81): Avilius is an absolute superstar and seems bombproof. He was underdone first-up and was still too classy for many of these runners, including Sikandarabad and Night’s Watch. He drew barrier one last start in the Peter Young Stakes and it was curtains at the of the straight when he got the split. Avilius really sprinted well, running 3.6 lengths faster than the Group 2 benchmark for the last 600m. Third-up, up to 2000m he looks extremely well placed. If Hughy can get him into clear galloping room at the top of the straight, he will prove very hard to beat.
12. NIGHT’S WATCH ($13.10): The five-year-old gelding has improved lengths in a short space of time but might just be a few lengths off these proper Group One horses. He has been sound without being terrific in two runs behind Avilius this preparation and I can’t really see him turning the tables on the favourite. $11 seems short enough.
15. SHILLELAGH ($16.10): She was given no chance the way the race was run last start in the Peter Young Stakes, as Trap For Fools went 3.5 lengths slower than benchmark to the 600m, while Shillelagh was wide and out the back. I loved her last 200m, as she ran 11.16s which was the equal-fastest last 200m of the meeting. A meeting that included the Oakleigh Plate and Spright who was charging home and also ran 11.16s for his final 200m. This is an indication that she is ready for 200m and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her run a race at a price.
Two impressive victories this campaign sees Avilius stamp himself as the horse beat in the Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington.
He was clearly underdone when first-up Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield but won stylishly, and the in the Peter Young Stakes (1800m) defeated Trap For Fools and Ace High who line up in opposition on Saturday.