A capacity field of Stradbroke Handicap hopefuls...
A huge day for team Godolphin was capped off with a win in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
After winning the Futurity and the Blue Diamond Stakes, James Cummings trained five-year-old Avilius made it back-to-back wins this prep just a fortnight after winning the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) on the same track.
In what can be classed as nothing more than a superb ride from Hugh Bowman, the pair waited patiently for a gap to open up down the straight, winning comfortably in a canter by two lengths.
Avilius has always been known for his devastating turn of foot, and it was on full display in his first weight-for-age win. Blinkers on for the first time did the trick, as the British raider beat home a field comprising of six Group 1 winners to firm into $2.20 favourtism ahead of next month’s Australian Cup (2000m) on March 9.
“The pace was pretty genuine which suited us, we found ourselves in a nice position” Bowman said after the race.
“He’s a quality horse that’s fared very well, he should go to an Australian Cup now as a favourite and be a good chance.”
Avilius now hopes to become the 13th horse to accomplish the Peter Young-Australian Cup double, with Fiorente being the most recent to do so in 2014. Bowman will no doubt get the ride, hoping to claim his second Cup win after steering Preferment to victory in 2016. Meanwhile, Cummings continues to have the hot hand having trained three Group 1 winners so far this year.
“He’s just a beautiful horse that does everything right for us,” Cummings said following Saturday’s win.
“I was a little tempted to put Hartnell in this race after his first-up win over six furlongs, but I’m delighted we pulled the right rein here.”
The market has firmed in favour of Avilius, who is now a $2.20 chance for the Australian Cup. Cummings thought the gelding has shown plenty of promise this year, and should hold form over the next fortnight.
“Extremely impressive the way he did it, he enjoyed the firm track, he enjoyed the pace throughout, I was impressed to see him perform so strongly late.
“The Australian Cup back at Flemington looks ideal, and hopefully we see him in the same form in two weeks time.”
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