Trainer Mark Webb is hoping for better luck with the barrier draw, and in running, for Avienus in Saturday’s Group Three Easter Cup at Caulfield.
Webb said the Reset mare had been racing consistently without getting back to the form that won her the Group Two Stocks Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley when she defeated Belscenica and Lady Lynette in September.
Later in the spring Avienus ran a slashing sixth to More Joyous in the Toorak Hcp (1600m) at Caulfield and a creditable sixth to So You Think in the Cox Plate (2040m) at the Valley.
Avienus went out to the paddock after contesting the Australasian weight-for-age championship but so far this preparation she hasn’t been placed in five runs.
“I don’t think she’s going quite as well as she was in the spring for some reason. I can’t really put a finger on it,” Webb said.
“But in saying that she has had a nice run of performances, just without luck from bad barriers which have cost her from either winning or placing.
“She’s been unlucky in that she’s drawn a lot of wide barriers throughout her career.”
Webb was heartened by the five-year-old’s last-start fifth to Easter Cup entry Vivid Vixen over 1800m at Caulfield last Saturday week when beaten only 1-1/4 lengths.
“Her run was good with no luck, her work has been great,” the Cranbourne trainer said.
“The Easter Cup is certainly a good race and with the weight (54kg) I’m certainly looking forward to it.”
Steven King will ride Avienus for the first time in a race on Saturday and Webb said he was keen to take the mount.
A $20,000 purchase as a yearling, Avienus has won five races and been placed in another seven for more than $445,000 in prize money.
“She’s given her owners a big thrill, especially giving them a runner in a Cox Plate,” Webb said.
Webb said the mare may have one more run in Adelaide after the Easter Cup (2000m) in either the Listed Centaurea Stakes (2000m) for fillies and mares or the Group Three RA Lee Stakes (1600m), both at Morphettville on May 8.
After that she would be spelled with the spring in mind.
The Peter Moody-trained Luen Yat Forever is Saturday’s topweight with 58kg, with Spacecraft and Buccellati both receiving 57.5kg and Rainbow Styling 57kg while Launay and last year’s winner Fanjura both got 56.5kg.