Triple Group 1 winner Avilius has been retired, with the seven-year-old gelding set to join Godolphin’s Lifetime Care program.
The son of Pivotal came to Australia in late 2017 and strung four-straight wins together from August 2018 until October, when champion mare Winx lowered his colours in the Cox Plate.
Avilius won three Group 3 races in his four-win streak, including the Bart Cummings over 2500m to cement his spot in the Melbourne Cup of that year, where unfortunate circumstances surrounding a fallen horse saw him finish 22nd in Australia’s most famous race.
Avilius would go on in the autumn to win back-to-back Group 1 races in the space of seven days, the Ranvet Stakes and Tacred Stakes, where he put up a combined winning margin of 4.6 lengths.
“A career thus far characterised by resilience, courage and determination has come to and end for Avilius, whose next chapter sees him honoured as a flagbearer for the Godolphin Lifetime Care program following the announcement by Godolphin of his retirement racing,” the statement read.
“A horse of great promise in France where he won two of his seven starts, Avilius became one of the stars of his generation in Australia.
“He matured into a multiple Group One winner with the versatility to win at the supreme level over distances ranging from 1600m to 2400m.”
Champion Sydney jockey James McDonald once claimed that after Winx retired, Avilius would be the best horse in Australia.
“He’s as good as you get,” McDonald said.
The gelding’s last win came in the Group 1 George Main Stakes in September 2019, but he has had multiple Group 1 placings since, before his career culminated when sixth in the Doomben Cup behind the current Cox Plate favourite, Zaaki.
“This was a horse who gave us all he had,” said James Cummings, Avilius’ trainer since 2017.
“So, it is only right that he should bow out with dignity.
“He was running well and, as he did from day one, he went into every battle in good health and with great desire.
“Horses like him never stop trying, so we have to know when to call time.
“He was an exceptionally talented horse. He was versatile and extremely resilient. He will be greatly missed, but he will always have a very good home.”
‘The Big A’ will now graduate as a flagbearer for the Lifetime Care program, where his profile will “promote the versatility of the Thoroughbred breed in a range of post-racing endeavours”.
“A top-class horse of his calibre will continue to command attention and we look forward to exploring the particular equine pursuit that best suits his characteristics and desire,” said Jason Walsh, Racing and Bloodstock Manager at Godolphin.
Avilius retires with a race record of 11 wins and nine minor placings from 39 starts and $3.7 million in prizemoney.