Last-start Group One George Main winner Avilius is in Melbourne for the Caulfield Stakes.
Avilius returns to Melbourne racing as a three-time Group One winner and is set to put his Cox Plate credentials on show against a field of international and local challengers in the Group One Caulfield Stakes.
The James Cummings-trained Godolphin-owned import is unbeaten at Caulfield having won the Group Three Carlyon Stakes (1600m) and Group Two Peter Young Stakes (1800m) in February.
He capped his autumn campaign with back-to-back Group One weight-for-age wins in Sydney in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and Tancred Stakes (2400m) on consecutive weekends in March and returned to winning ways in the third start of his spring campaign in the Group One George Main (1600m) at Randwick on September 21.
Two weeks out from the $5 million Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley for which he is the $5 equal favourite, Avilius makes his first Melbourne appearance of this year’s spring carnival in Saturday’s Caulfield Stakes (2000m) and takes on a field including Danceteria, one of three international invitees set to run in the Cox Plate.
Along with a number of proven locally trained weight-for-age horses, The Caulfield Stakes, features the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained international visitor Dream Castle, Japanese horse Suzuka Devious and northern hemisphere three-year-old Cape Of Good Hope who has his first Australian start for the Lindsay Park team.
“He’s going to use the Caulfield Stakes as a lead-up to the Cox Plate but his focus is on the Caulfield Stakes at the moment and I think there’s plenty at stake because the competition is just so strong there,” Cummings said of Avilius.
“He was storming to the line in the George Main third-up and he should be perfectly ready with three weeks between runs now coming into the Caulfield Stakes.
“I think the competition is really deep and he’s going to really need to step up and keep proving that he’s right up to that mark as one of the premier weight-for-age middle distance horses around.
“I’m really happy with him and he’s looking fantastic.
“I think the horse is ready to do the talking himself.”
Despite being the equal favourite for the Cox Plate, Avilius is still in the entries for Saturday week’s $5 million Caulfield Cup.
“I think that at the moment we’ll be concentrating on the Cox Plate,” Cummings said.