Avilius surges in Melbourne Cup market

Avilius has been the second best backed runner for the Melbourne Cup at Sportsbet. Source: Bradley Photos.

GODOLPHIN stayer Avilius has been the second best backed runner at online bookmaker Sportsbet to win the Melbourne Cup after a flood of money came in for the ballot exempt runner.

Despite being on the fourth line of betting at the $13 quote, Avilius has seen the majority of the money outside of the favourite Yucatan, with one wager of $10,000 among the cash splashed on the Bart Cummings winner.

Fellow overseas raiders Magic Circle and Cross Counter remain on the second line of betting ($10 at Sportsbet) to salute in this year’s Cup.

Melbourne Cup favourite Yucatan ($4.50) is the only horse in single figures.

Sportsbet representative Will Bryne believes a win for Avilius would be a sentimental one for Godolphin head trainer James Cummings.

“Yucatan is clearly the top pick for the Cup, but there’s been a consistent wave of support for Avilius.

“He’s prepared by James Cummings, whose late grandfather Bart Cummings won the Cup 12 times, so there is an element of sentiment there.”

Hartnell ‘in terrific shape’ ahead of Kennedy Mile

Godolphin head trainer James Cummings has declared Hartnell is in ‘terrific shape’ as the horse heads towards Saturday’s Group 1 Kennedy Mile (1600m).

Hartnell comes into the race following a surprise second in the Group 1 Toorak Handicap at Caulfield earlier in the month and Cummings believes the switch to Flemington will suit the eight-year-old right down to the ground.

“He has a 2.5kg weight turnaround with Land Of Plenty from the Toorak Handicap,” Cummings said.

“That should make things pretty interesting back at Flemington where Hartnell’s probably a length better horse.”

A Group 1 winner earlier in the campaign in the Epsom Handicap, Cummings said he has been surprised by how well Hartnell has looked since he took over the Godolphin head role.

“He’s in terrific shape, dancing around the stables. He’s got the skin of a two-year-old colt.

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Hartnell and he’s never disappointed me over seven furlongs or a mile and keeping him to those trips has been extremely rewarding.”

The trainer said keeping Hartnell’s work short and sharp has been the key to his success across this campaign.

“He enjoys the shorter work as well as the shorter races. That’s what we’ve stuck to this campaign and he’s kept on running well.

“With any luck he would have a similar run and dive at them up the straight at Flemington on Saturday.”

Hartnell is the $6.50 second favourite at online bookmaker Ladbrokes behind Land Of Plenty ($4.50) for this Saturday’s Group 1 Kennedy Mile.