This Saturday’s Kingston Town Classic 2011 at Ascot in Perth could be the final career run for class Victorian mare Avienus with connections to decide after the weekend whether to press on for one final Melbourne Autumn Carnival campaign next year with the six-year-old.
The Mark Webb-trained Reset mare Avienus travelled over to WA at the start of the month for the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m), but she could only manage to finish a disappointing 10th when beaten over seven lengths by winner-on-protest Luckygray.
She has stayed on in WA for another shot at Group 1 glory during the Festival of Perth Racing, the $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) this Saturday possibly her career swansong before Avienus begins a new life as a broodmare.
“It could be her last run on Saturday and, if so, I think she’ll acquit herself very well,” her Cranbourne-based trainer Webb said this week.
“She’s won us a Group 2 (the 2010 Stocks Stakes), been runner-up in a Group 1 (to Descarado in the 2011 Caulfield Stakes), raced in two Cox Plates (sixth in 2010 and 13th in 2011) and really given us all a great ride, so it would be nice if she could win a Group 1 next Saturday.
2011 Kingston Town Classic Odds
“But even if she doesn’t, she’s been just wonderful for us.”
Purchased by current connections for a very reasonable $20,000 at the 2008 William Inglis and Son Autumn Thoroughbred Sales, Avienus has won five of her 34 starts to date earning over $543,000 in prize money.
“We haven’t finalised yet whether Saturday is her last race,” Webb continued.
“She may have a small campaign in the autumn.
“We’ll make that decision when the dust settles and depending on how she comes through on Saturday.”
Webb also said that there were already a number of interested parties to purchase Avienus as a broodmare.
“There are a few offers floating around from a couple of buyers but it’s up to the owners,” he said.
“Either way, she’s been a great mare.
“They paid $20,000 for her and she’s won them more than half a million.
“She’s got a great pedigree for a broodmare.
“Her second behind Descarado in the Caulfield Stakes was enormous for her (broodmare) value but a Group 1 win next to her name, even one in Perth, wouldn’t hurt either.”
Webb is willing to forgive her failed Railway Stakes run, Avienus having suffered travel sickness in the days leading up to the showdown, and is confident she can bounce back with a competitive run this weekend.
“I’m pretty pleased with how she’s gone on since the Railway as she seems to have settled in a lot better,” he said.
“She had a poor flight over before the Railway and then she was ridden too close (by Craig Williams), but everything’s been really good since and on her best form, she’d give them something to beat.”
Williams, who rode Japan Cup runner-up Tosen Jordan on Sunday kicking off his six-week riding stint at Tokyo, will be replaced in the Kingston Town Classic by Brad Rawiller with Avienus allocated 57kg under the weight-for-age conditions, a four kilo rise from what she carried in the Railway Stakes.
“It’s still going to be a tough assignment,” Webb said.
“Hopefully with Brad (Rawiller) on board, we’ll get the right sort of ride we’re after.
“If she can sit somewhere around midfield it would be ideal.
“She’s come through the run well and I’m really happy with her.”
Avienus is currently rated a $19 chance in the Kingston Town Classic odds at Luxbet, the top fancy of the 14-horse field being Luckygray at a quote of $2.60 to salute in their second Group 1 on the trot.
Rawiller will be shooting for his third Kingston Town Classic trophy having previously won with the David Hayes-trained Niconero in 2006 and 2008.
The hoop has a nice association with Avienus having ridden her for three successive Melbourne Spring Carnival runs this year, most recently for her fourth to Vintedge in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on November 5, Rawiller hopeful she can bounce back on Saturday when stepped back up from the mile to 1800 metres.
“She was trained for a mile-and-a-quarter (2000 metres) and the race this week over 1800 metres was always going to be her best chance,” Rawiller said.
“She will be primed for it and I’m happy to be on her.”
Check out the full 2011 Kingston Town Classic field and odds now at Luxbet.