The Daily Wrap

5 min read

Avilius worries Williams

Lloyd Williams believes the biggest threat of him winning a third-straight Melbourne Cup could come from James Cummings.

Williams has won six Melbourne Cups as an owner and has both The Cliffsofmoher (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and the favourite Yucatan {Ire}) engaged this year. He told Radio TAB that the only two horses which worry him are Cummings' Avilius (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) and Hughie Morrison's hope Marmelo {GB}) (Duke of Marmalade {Ire})

"All I'm worried about is James Cummings with Avilius and I'm worried about Hughie Bowman with Marmelo and that's it with me,” Williams said.

“If I was a bookie I’d be keeping those two (plus Yucatan and The Cliffsofmoher) and I’ve got another 20 to lay.”

Williams was particularly impressed with the G1 Cox Plate win of Avilius.

“The Cox Plate effort was even,” he said. “I won two Melbourne Cups out of the Cox Plate, Green Moon and Efficient."

“Avilius' run was just as good as either of those two.”

"I thought Glyn Schofield rode him just as I would've liked him to ride him if I owned him. He didn't put him under any undue pressure and gave him a nice gallop on a good surface.”

J-Mac eyes boyhood dream

James McDonald is looking to win the G1 Lexus Melbourne Cup at his fifth attempt when he takes the ride aboard the favourite Yucatan (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}).

The star hoop hopes he can improve on his placed efforts with Fiorente (Monsun {Ger}) (second, 2012) and Hartnell (GB) (Authorized {Ire}) (third, 2016).

“It’s really satisfying to be on a live chance in the race and he’s with the best possible team,” McDonald said.

James McDonald

“I have been dreaming of a Melbourne Cup for many, many years – since I was a boy, and obviously it would be a dream come true.”

McDonald was pleased to see the form from Yucatan's win in the G3 Herbert Power S. measure up with A Prince of Arran (Shirocco {Ger}) winning the G3 Lexus S. on Saturday.

“The horse that won the Lexus Stakes (A Prince Of Arran), I could have beaten it by six or eight lengths in the Herbert Power so it was satisfying to see the two placegetters run so well in the Lexus," he said.

“I would have been a bit worried if A Prince Of Arran and Brimham Rocks had finished tailed-off, but they have run first and second, so the form is franked and it is all good signs."

“The wide draw of 23 is not really a big deal. He’s a European horse who is normally slow into gear anyway, so it gives me a bit of time to sort myself out and get in a position where it’s going to be winnable. "

“He’s a horse that is very good and he can probably overcome a few little hiccups along the way, but hopefully he can get an uninterrupted run.”

Royal Ascot a possibility for Zousain

Coolmore Stud S. runner-up Zousain (Zoustar) could be headed towards Royal Ascot next year.

Widden Stud bought into the colt earlier in the spring and their Marketing and Stallion Nominations Manager Ryan McEvoy, who is also an owner in the horse, said overseas plans were in the mix should Zousain return well in the autumn.

"I know Chris (Waller-trainer) and the ownership group, particularly Qatar Racing, would love to see him get to Royal Ascot. That's a long-term plan if his form warrants it in the autumn. He's one horse who will get his day in the sun," McEvoy said.

McEvoy believes a race like the G1 Newmarket H. would be ideal for Zousain, who was narrowly beaten by Sunlight (Zoustar) in Saturday's Group 1 sprint at Flemington.

"3-year-olds have a great record in a race like the Newmarket. He profiles up as a horse that would be really competitive in a race like that," he said.

Amphitrite claims Oaks favouritism

A positive barrier draw has seen Amphitrite (Sebring) assume favouritism for Thursday's G1 Kennedy Oaks.

The G1 Thousand Guineas winning filly is coming off an unlucky 11th in Saturday's G1 Empire Rose S. and punters are confident Darren Weir can complete a Derby-Oaks double after Extra Brut's (Domesday) victory., with the filly drawing barrier 5.

Stablemate Verry Elleegant (NZ) (Zed {NZ}), who was the pronounced favourite for the race before finishing unplaced in Saturday’s G2 Wakeful Stakes drew, barrier 13 and drifted out further.

Wakeful S. winner Aristia (Lonhro) came up with barrier 4 in the 15-horse field.

Hello black-type target

Hello It’s Me (NZ) (Darci Brahma (NZ) is looking for more black-type when she turns out for Chris Gibbs and Michelle Bradley in the Gr.3 OMF Stakes at Ellerslie on Tuesday.

Last seen when seventh in the G1 Livamol Classic, Hello It’s Me will relish the drop in class as she aims towards a second stakes success.

“There are a couple of good horses in there, they all deserve their chance, but it’s certainly a race that is winnable for anything in it," Gibbs said. "Our mare is in good order, I am happy with her going into the race.”

Gibbs has earmarked Hello It's Me for further black-type targets this spring.

“We might be coming into the wrong time of the year with her, but we’ll quietly pick our way along until we decide to pop her back into the paddock again around Christmas,” Gibbs said.

“I think the nicest race for her would be the Counties Cup (Gr.3, 2100m), being a handicap race. But she’s in tomorrow with a big chance.”