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Raceday betting on the spring’s opening Group 1 race – the 2019 Winx Stakes at Royal Randwick – is all about two horses with the race favourite Avilius and Chris Waller’s class mare Verry Elleegant the best backed in the field.
Due to run as Randwick Race 7 at 3:45pm (AEST) this afternoon, the Group 1 $500,000 Winx Stakes (1400m) features a class line-up of 10 gallopers led in betting by the James Cummings-trained Avilius (8).
Avilius is a noted first-up performer having taking out the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at Caulfield when returning last prep.
His autumn went on to produce two Group 1 wins in Sydney with the Ranvet Stakes – Tancred Stakes double at Rosehill.
The Godolphin star however is yet to win over less than a mile and Cummings has a few reservations about the horse’s short price in Winx Stakes betting.
“The pressure of a Group One return at 1400 metres is a bit different,” Cummings told AAP.
“By my estimation, and without getting too carried away, he will run a nice race.
“But the effort he put in last season will be hard to replicate. He’ll be matching it with better horses every start. There’s nowhere to hide.”
The Bet Tracker at Ladbrokes.com.au on the Winx Stakes shows the next best fancied runner with the second highest percentage of bets is Waller’s ATC Oaks star Verry Elleegant.
Drawn positively in barrier three the mare is also first-up and is looking to hand Waller his fifth straight win in the race following the victory by Royal Descent (2015) and the three-peat of the event’s namesake Winx (2016-18).
Verry Elleegant is after a fourth consecutive win and her first win fresh having run second in both her first-up runs to date.
Despite her latest victory being over the 2400m by two lengths at the Randwick track in mid-April, the daughter of Needs Further is also proven at the shorter 1400m boasting two wins and a second from her three goes over the Winx Stakes distance.
She has jockey James McDonald back in the saddle after he rode her for all four of her autumn runs.
Waller also has Kings Will Dream returning after breaking down in last October’s Group 1 $5 million Cox Plate (2040m) as a $12 chance in the Winx Stakes and $11 fancy Unforgotten.
The punters have left Unforgotten alone in betting with the Fastnet Rock mare easing out from her opening odds of $9 as she kicks off her spring after a last start third in the Group 1 Queen Of The Turf Stakes (1600m) during ‘The Championships’.
Her hoop Brenton Avdulla however rode her in an eye-catching recent Group & Listed Trial over 1000m at Rosehill – won by Avilius – and warns he wouldn’t be surprised to see her return to winning form.
“I’m looking forward to riding her,” Avdulla told the media.
“She’s trialled well, she galloped Saturday on the course proper and galloped well.
“She’s 1400 first-up in the Winx Stakes with no Winx, so it’s going to be interesting.
“I think the firm track will suit her and she’s a genuine Group One mare on her day that can run very competitively in a race like this.”
Unforgotten won the 2018 ATC Oaks for Waller, while her last victory was in that year’s Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m).
She has since recorded three Group 1 thirds and could be the value horse in Winx Stakes tipping this afternoon.
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