Trainer James Cummings confirmed on Tuesday that Avilius would not follow the Caulfield Cup path to the G1 Melbourne Cup, choosing instead to line up at weight-for-age over the Valley’s 2040m course.
Avilius made it four-from-four in Australia with a determined win in last weekend’s G3 Bart Cummings at Flemington that provided him with both an automatic Melbourne Cup start and provided confidence among his training team of his potential to run out 3200m.
“He now has his first victory over a staying distance and under a lot of pressure he was able to prove he could still perform and show that turn of foot despite a genuine and tough pace throughout,” Cummings said.
“We can now give the horse three weeks to the Cox Plate and if we’re lucky enough to gain a start in that race, then he’ll be perfect for the Melbourne Cup.
“We feel that the best progression for Avilius is to head to the Cox Plate and we won’t be accepting in the Caulfield Cup.”
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby hailed Hawkbill a “wonderful racehorse” after confirming his retirement from racing.
The five-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy won 10 of his 24 career starts, including two triumphs at the highest level.
He first struck Group One gold in the 2016 Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and was a dominant winner of this year’s Dubai Sheema Classic.
Appleby told www.godolphin.com: “He was a wonderful racehorse, who will be remembered for bringing Moulton Paddocks to the international stage.
“He was an ambassador for Godolphin, who gave everybody connected with him immense pleasure. He was hugely popular in the yard.
“Now, he is set to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.”
Hawkbill raced in six countries over four seasons and was last seen finishing down the field when favourite for the Northern Dancer Turf Stakes at Woodbine in Canada last month.
Godolphin‘s Emotionless will almost certainly miss the Caulfield Cup later this month.
The five-year-old had finally begun to recapture some of his earlier form in his last couple of outings, chasing home Benbatl in Meydan and winning at Newbury.
Charlie Appleby has enjoyed good success with a select team Down Under in recent seasons. But he is now likely to be without a runner in one of Australia’s most famous races – given his only other entry, Folkswood, finished last of 16 at Caulfield recently.
“Following routine exercise on Saturday, Emotionless was seen to cool out lame behind,” the 43-year-old told www.godolphin.com.
“But following a subsequent thorough veterinary examination, no significant findings were apparent.
“Because of the degree of lameness, in the best interests of the horse himself, we have taken the decision not to continue his training programme until he has undergone scintigraphy (bone scan).
“This is on the advice of Racing Victoria vets.
“Because he will miss several days’ work, his participation in the Caulfield Cup (October 20) is now very doubtful.
“If the bone scan shows nothing significant, he will resume full training, and we will look for another suitable target for him.”