By Ray Hickson
Boom Godolphin import Avilius reaches a crucial point in his spring preparation at Randwick on Saturday and trainer James Cummings knows it.
With two impressive wins from as many starts in Australia, the five-year-old is expected to take another step in the Group 3 $160,000 The Agency Kingston Town Stakes (2000m).
Avilius has 54kg in The Metropolitan (2400m), where he is $4 TAB favourite, later this month and Cummings said it’s important he proves his worth.
“He is thriving and he really has the task ahead to meet the expectations that have built around him,’’ Cummings said.
“Since he came to us in April he’s got better and better.
“I expect him to enjoy the 2000m at Randwick on the way out to 2400m later on.’’
Whether Avilius is pointed towards The Metropolitan or heads to Melbourne is likely to hinge on how he handles the capacity field which includes last year’s Kingston Town winner Libran among nine Chris Waller acceptors.
Avilius wins the Premier's Cup at Rosehill on August 25
The gelding produced some dazzling sectionals to win first-up over a mile at Randwick then overcame trouble to win, again attacking the line hard, the Group 3 Premier’s Cup (1900m) three weeks ago.
Punters Intel data showed Avilius ran the last 600m in 34.47, which compared well across the day despite the longer trip, and clocked the fastest 400m-200m of the race of 11.15 as well as the best last 200m of 11.47.
He opened $2.40 favourite with TAB in Saturday’s race and Glyn Schofield retains the ride.
“This is a stronger race as you’d expect and he meets some good horses,’’ Cummings said.
“If he is to be a Cups contender he has to keep on improving and absorbing the pressure.’’
Hopes in the Godolphin camp for Group 1 winner It’s Somewhat aren’t quite as high as he tackles Winx in the Group 1 $500,000 Colgate Optic White Stakes (1600m).
The eight-year-old, who ran third behind Winx in the 2016 edition, missed a place for first time at the Randwick mile when he finished seventh behind Unforgotten in the Chelmsford on September 1.
While TAB doesn’t rate his chances of even being placed, given he’s $81, Cummings would like to see him show something of the form that took him to a Doncaster win last year.
“It’s Somewhat is probably going to need another run over the mile here,’’ he said.
“I think that will set him up nicely for the remainder of his campaign.”
“He has come out of his first-up run in good shape and I think if he settles within his comfort zone it will give him a better opportunity to finish off that little bit harder.”