Avilius has won a start in the Melbourne Cup after surviving a protest to claim The Bart Cummings at Flemington.
Success in Saturday’s 2500m handicap gave the winner a ballot exemption into the $7 million Melbourne Cup 2018 on November 6.
A protest was lodged by Michael Walker, rider of the runner-up Jaameh, for alleged interference in the last 100m but after a short deliberation it was dismissed.
Sent off as the TAB $2.35 favourite under Glyn Schofield, Avilius defeated Jaameh ($14) by a short half-head with Yogi ($5.50) 1-1/4 lengths away third.
Avilius was targeted at Saturday’s race with Cummings and the Godolphin team electing to bypass last week’s Group One Metropolitan at Randwick.
“We tend to go for the small fish when they’re there but there’s a whale on the horizon if we could get the exemption by winning this race,” Cummings said.
Cummings said he had tried to keep the emotion out of winning the race named in his grandfather’s honour, 12-time Melbourne Cup winner Bart Cummings.
“Today was about getting His Highness Sheikh Mohammed a runner in the Melbourne Cup and we’ve achieved that,” Cummings said.
“Now that he’s exempt we can plot a path on where we feel he’s best suited and we’re not chasing our tail with him.
“It’s special to me but it’s got to be business first and I’m just so pleased for the team.”
Cummings said he would talk to the Godolphin team to decide whether to run the stayer in the 2018 Caulfield Cupin a fortnight or decide whether he’s clean-winded enough to go straight into the Melbourne Cup.
Lindsay Park senior trainer David Hayes said Jaameh was likely to attempt and win his way into the Melbourne Cup via the Lexus Stakes on November 3.