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Avilius prepared to step up and prove WFA credentials in George Main

3 minute read

Avilius is a proven Group 1 weightfor-age performer who excels at Royal Randwick and is unbeaten on heavy tracks.

Daily Telegraph, published Friday 20th September 2019, Author, Ray Thomas, Page 44.
Daily Telegraph, published Friday 20th September 2019, Author, Ray Thomas, Page 44.

Those are some of the reasons form guru Gary Crispe keeps coming back to Avilius as the horse to beat in the $500,000 Colgate Optic White George Main Stakes (1600m) tomorrow.

Crispe said Avilius is "well set up" to produce a near-career-best Timeform rating which will be enough to claim the feature race.

Avilius resumed with a closing fourth to Samadoubt in the Winx Stakes and was then game in defeat when the pattern of the day was against him in the Chelmsford Stakes, again won by Samadoubt.

"Both performances have been well below Avilius's career peak of 125, however, he looks to be building nicely and he should appreciate the wet conditions,'' Crispe said.

"The wide draw keeps him out of trouble and, while he is again likely to get back, the injection of Dreamforce adds much-needed tempo to the race.''

Crispe made the salient point that Samadoubt has taken full advantage by leading and controlling the tempo at both starts this time in, however, he appears unlikely to get similar favours tomorrow with Dreamforce engaged.

The two frontrunners should ensure a genuine tempo which will provide Avilius with his opportunity.

"Avilius is being set for bigger races later in the spring but I feel he shouldn't be far off his best for this race,'' Crispe said.

"I don't think he'll have many excuses this time so if he is able to run up to or very close to his peak rating, then he should prove very hard to beat.''

Crispe said nine-year-old Happy Clapper, runner-up to Winx in this race two years ago, looms as Avilius's main danger tomorrow.

Happy Clapper finished second (Avilius fourth) in the Winx Stakes when resuming but hasn't started since with trainer Pat Webster preferring to give the gelding a barrier trial instead to prepare for the George Main Stakes.

"His recent trial suggests all is in good order and no question this is his wheelhouse, in eight starts over the mile at Randwick, he has won three with four minor placings,'' Crispe said.

"Seven of those races were in Group 1 company and three of them were finishing second behind Winx. The only time he missed a placing he ran fourth in the 2016 Epsom, beaten a half-length.

"I'm not sure if Happy Clapper loves the heavy going but you have to respect his class.''

Article taken from Daily Telegraph, published Friday 20th September 2019, Author, Ray Thomas, Page 44.

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