Avilius, Cummings and a possible shot at the Cups

4 min read
A horse trained by a Cummings tumbling in Cups markets is headline written hundreds of times in late August over the past century. That the horse in question is a Northern Hemisphere import owned by Godolphin is a slight twist to the tale.

The Cummings name, the Godolphin brand and a strong international formline are behind Avilius' (Pivotal {GB}) tilt at the Group 1 spring handicaps.

Avilius is now clear favourite for The G1 Metropolitan H. and is on the second line of betting in G1 Caulfield Cup off the back of two strong wins in Australia, the latest in the G3 Premier's Cup over 1900m at Rosehill on Saturday.

"He's a very impressive horse and couldn’t have been more exciting in his beginning to his Australian career," James Cummings.

James Cummings sees a lot of upside in the 5-year-old, who has caught the eye with powerful finishes at Randwick at Rosehill.

"He's a very impressive horse and couldn’t have been more exciting in his beginning to his Australian career," Cummings told Sky Racing Radio on Sunday.

"I think that he's got a lot more to offer for the remainder of the campaign."

Preparing an emerging horse for a shot at spring handicaps is something his grandfather Bart was an expert at and having worked closely with the legendary 12-time Melbourne Cup winner earlier in his career, James Cummings is relishing the challenge of realising the potential of Avilius.

"We're excited as everybody else when you take the wraps off a horse like him," Cummings said.

"He's the only son of Pivotal we have in training and these horses provide us with an interesting string to our bow. And we get the chance to do some different things with him, and it’s enjoyable."

Set for Australia

Avilius came to Australia with two things in his favour. Firstly, he has the turn of foot to thrive in the style of racing here and secondly, he had a low enough rating to ensure he could build confidence by stepping through the classes.

"The Metropolitan is a good race for him, because it is a handicap and if he's fit and well and goes well into the race, he goes into there with a nice weight." - James Cummings

"When they get on the plane with a provisional rating of only 88, you can appreciate there is a lot of room to move. Even if they are a top horse, they have to get their rating up, even to just get into those good races," Cummings said.

Avilius

Next Steps

The Metropolitan (2400m) on September 29 is his main spring target, with a step through the G3 Newcastle Gold Cup a likely path to Randwick.

"The Metropolitan is a good race for him, because it is a handicap and if he's fit and well and goes well into the race, he goes into there with a nice weight," Cummings said.

"That's the sort of horse that tends to do well in a race like that."

"In his races overseas, he's been able to camp behind horses like Cracksman and be full of running," James Cummings, trainer

The only time Avilius has been over the 2400m was when he ran second to Cracksman (GB) (Frankel {GB}) in the G2 Prix Niel at Chantilly last September.

It is that run that has convinced Cummings that Avilius is more versatile than his two runs in Australia may indicate.

"He doesn’t necessarily have to be that far back. In his races overseas, he's been able to camp behind horses like Cracksman and be full of running," he said.

Versatility is certainly an asset which will help Avilius get through the spring. Cummings mentioned post-race on Saturday that he will put in an entry for the Caulfield Cup as well.

WATCH: Avilius runs 2nd to Cracksman in the G2 Prix Niel at Chantilly

How far will he get?

Avilius' pedigree would indicate that the 2000m-2400m is where he is best suited. His dam Alessandria (Sunday Silence {USA}) won one race over 2400m, while Avilius' full brother Saint Baudolino (Ire) was G2 winner over 2000m in France.

But given the affinity of the Cummings name with the Melbourne Cup and Godolphin's desire to win the world's richest handicap, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Avilius at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November.