Hugh Bowman rides Avilius to victory the Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield on February 23. Picture: George Salpigtidis/AAP
Hugh Bowman rides Avilius to victory the Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield on February 23. Picture: George Salpigtidis/AAP

Blue Army’s big guns on target for Group 1 double

JAMES Cummings is upbeat over the Group 1 hopes of Avilius and Osborne Bulls as Godolphin attempts to emulate Lindsay Park's 2018 feat of snaring the Australian Cup and Newmarket Handicap double.

Cummings will saddle up the Ladbrokes favourites in both the Cup (Avilius, $1.85) and Newmarket (Osborne Bulls, $3.60) and expects both to live up to market expectations.

The Blue Army will also start Encryption ($15) in the Newmarket.

"He's flying, Osborne Bulls," Cummings said on Tuesday.

"He's gone ahead since the Lightning (Handicap). He came out for a nice gallop this morning and he's just licking his lips, happy to be where he is.

"I think he's gonna enjoy another big challenge up the straight for him this weekend."

Osborne Bulls is in great shape for the Newmarket Handicap. Picture: AAP
Osborne Bulls is in great shape for the Newmarket Handicap. Picture: AAP

Reminded of Craig Williams' claim Osborne Bulls was the best sprinter in the land, Cummings said with a smile: "I just hope Craig Williams is a good judge.

"The horse is just in great shape and we're quietly confident we've got him where we visualised we might be able to have him at the very beginning of the preparation for a race like this.

"He's got a wonderful opportunity to be one of the horses flying at the line at the business end. We've got the horse set up now and it's time for him to deliver at Group 1 level.

"His run had the flashing lights all over it in the weight-for-age Group 1 (Lightning) first-up.

"Now, at 1200m, he's really got his chance. This is where the pressure goes on a horse like him and it will fascinating to see how he handles that."

Cummings said Avilius had enjoyed a faultless preparation and had "his best opportunity to win a Group 1 in Australia since he debuted last year".

"The horse on Saturday will be peaking," Cummings said.

"There's some fresh form going into the event but he's had the right form, he's come out of the right races.

"Getting to Flemington again, where he was able to win The Bart Cummings last preparation, will suit him nicely. Looking for 2000m all over from his effort last time."

Lindsay Park won the Australian Cup last year with Harlem and the Newmarket with Redkirk Warrior. Both horses will return in quest of repeat wins on Saturday.

Lindsay Park could have five Australian Cup runners - Harlem, Ventura Storm, So Si Bon, Sikandarabad and Muntahaa.

News Corp Australia

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