The name Cummings is synonymous with the Melbourne Cup so it is no surprise to see that they are once again featuring in discussions for Australia’s greatest race.
Of course, it isn’t the legendary Bart Cummings we are speaking of, but his grandson James after his star performer Avilius took out the race named in his pop’s honour at Flemington over the weekend.
Avilius started a $2.30 favourite in The Bart Cummings (2500 metres) and after settling four back the inside, jockey Glyn Schofield angled wider turning for home to find clear running. Getting it midway down the straight, the gelding sprinted sharply to win in a bob of the head over the fast-finishing Jaameh. The battle wasn’t over there as the jocks took it to the stewards room but ultimately the protest was dismissed.
Bookies reacted immediately with the five-year-old now favourite across most corporates.
It has been a meteoric rise for Pivotal since arriving in Australia. He has now won all four runs, ranging from 1600m to now 2500m, and although he was a bit wayward in the straight yesterday, he still showed his customary turn of foot when asked. Giving the win even more credit is that he had to concede 4.5kgs to Jaameh and third placegetter Yogi, while his time was nearly two seconds quicker than Almandin’s win in 2016, with that horse going on to win the Melbourne Cup at his next start.
Young James would love nothing more than to win the race that stops the nation. Yes, it would be a sentimental win if another Cummings was added to the honour roll, however, it would also mean that Godolphin finally has the race they have longed for.
The global racing giant has thrown millions of dollars and horses at this race over the years but has consistently fallen short. Is Avilius finally the horse to give them the Cup?
Cummings bypassed last week’s Metropolitan to focus solely on yesterday’s feature. Many said it was madness as he was throwing away a guaranteed win, and with all due respect to Patrick Erin who won the race, he probably did. The move has proven to be a masterstroke though because the winner of The Bart Cummings is exempt from the Melbourne Cup ballot.
Avilius is in – can he justify the favouritism on the first Tuesday is November?