It may not exactly be a make-or-break moment for Avilius, but the British bred gelding works for Godolphin, so expectations are high and must be met.
The five-year-old charge of James Cummings is coming into Saturday’s Group 1 weight-for-age Australian Cup (2000 m) as the $2 favourite for one of the big races taking place at Flemington
He is coming in off two consecutive wins, the first the Group 3 Carlyon Cup at Caulfield, where he justified his top line status with the 1600-metre win. He won near the end of February, when he beat Trap For Fools and Ace High in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes, same course, same conditions.
Avilius will need to beat those same two Saturday, along with some of the usual suspects, such as Almandin, Rekindling, Ventura Storm, The Taj Mahal and Shillelagh.
Cummings retained Hugh Bowman for the ride and the pair will jump from the rail in the field of 15.
It seems as though the bookies are looking at the race as Avilius and the rest, as the next closest in bet betting is Night’s Watch.
This will be the third Group 1 start for Avilius. He was 22nd of 24 when he tried the Melbourne Cup and fourth in the 2018 Cox Plate, where the race was truly for second, where he was one of the few brave enough to field with Winx.
This is one of the biggest weekends of autumn racing.
Flemington will also run the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap, where 23 will sprint 1200 metres. Osbourne Bulls is the favourite for that race, quoted $3.90 with Ladbrokes. The Newmarket looks to be a very open race, with nothing longer than the $71 of Voodoo Lad, a proven galloper and Group 1 winner.
Randwick has a big meeting going off, too, with two Group 1s, the Canterbury Stakes (1300 m w.f.a), with a small field headed by Trapeze Artist ($2.80) with Kementari and Pierata at $4.40 and $4.20, respectively.
The Randwick Guineas (1600 m) looks to belong to The Autumn Sun ($1.55), but Nakeeta Jane ($6.00) and Vegadaze ($10) look like legitimate chances.