Avilius has reaffirmed his status as one of the country’s premier weight-for-age stars and put himself back in the Cox Plate frame with a devastating win in the Group One George Main Stakes at Randwick.
Godolphin head trainer James Cummings admitted it was a relief to see the horse return to the sort of form that delivered him back-to-back Group One victories in the autumn after two inconclusive conditioning runs in leader-dominated races.
The brilliance of his George Main win over the Randwick mile has given Godolphin some food for thought with the Cox Plate again looming large after they initially believed he may have returned more dour.
“That was a Cox Plate effort today,” Cummings said.
“His first up runs so far this preparation demonstrated that he was more a Caulfield Cup horse, so we’ve got some thinking to do.
“But this is the demonstration of a horse that is well and truly back and firing.”
Kerrin McEvoy settled Avilius towards the rear of the field with Samadoubt taking up his customary frontrunning role, although he wasn’t able to dictate as decisively as he had when winning the Winx and Chelmsford Stakes.
Dreamforce, well backed from $4.80 to start $4.20, stalked the leader and shot to the front in the straight but McEvoy and Avilius ($3.10 fav) set their sights on him and ran him down comfortably to score a runaway 2-1/4 length win.
Happy Clapper ($5) looked a spent force turning for home but rallied for third another 1-1/4 lengths in arrears.
Cummings was unsure of immediate plans for Avilius but said the Turnbull Stakes was an option.
“Great ride from Kerrin to be sweeping into the race off the back of that sort of pressure and I think the horse is well and truly on the path we needed to see him on,” Cummings said.
Nash Rawiller was happy with the effort of Dreamforce and said he thought he was on the winner halfway up the straight.
“He went to the front at the furlong like the winner, but full credit to the winner he put him to the sword,” Rawiller said.
Happy Clapper ran his usual honest race and trainer Pat Webster will give him a barrier trial before his next scheduled start in the Craven Plate (2000m) on Everest day, ruling out an Epsom Handicap berth.
“He probably just needs 2000 metres now on that run,” Webster said.
“The Epsom is definitely out now he’s got 59 and a half kilograms.”
Chris Waller was satisfied with the effort of Verry Elleegant, who raced handier than expected and fought right to the line for fourth, saying the tempo of the race didn’t suit the mare.