Following Monday’s Warwick Farm nominations for the Villiers Stakes 2011 running this Saturday, weights for the Sydney summer feature have now been released with the Gai Waterhouse-trained King Lionheart and Montonsharing the 58kg topweight for the quality handicap showdown.
There were a total of 20 early entries for the $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) this year, the headline event supported on Saturday by the $100,000 Listed Razor Sharp Handicap (1200m).
Twelve months ago Waterhouse scored Razor Sharp success with Swift Alliance, and while she won’t be represented in the sprint showdown again this year, she does have two Villiers Stakes nominees.
Along with Group 2 Shannon Stakes winner King Lionheart, last seen finishing seventh to fellow Villiers Stakes topweight Monton in the Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on December 3, Waterhouse has also entered Kontiki Park.
After finishing dead last in the Festival Stakes, Kontiki Park bounced back at Rosehill last Saturday finishing a close third to New Day Rising in a Welter over 1400 metres.
There are eight other runners weighted above the 52kg minimum for the Villiers Stakes including Sydney Cup third placegetter Solid Billing (56kg), the Mark Kavanagh-trained Shadowfax (55kg), last-start Listed Frank Underwood Cup winner Zara Dancer (54kg) and Rosehill Welter winner New Day Rising (53kg).
Notable horses on 52kg include Festival Stakes runner-up and third placegetter Lightinthenite and Viva Las, recent Goulburn Cup winner Straight Albert and Con Karakatsanis’ Stratum four-year-old My Destiny coming off three straight wins in Sydney.
“The Villiers is always a good race but My Destiny is on the way up and he should get into it with no weight which puts him in with a real chance,” Karakatsanis said.
“There are not many opportunities around to compete in a Group race at this time of the season and after he pulled up so well form his last-start win, we could find no reason not to stay home and target this race.”
My Destiny has started just nine times for four wins and three minor placings, and while Saturday will be their first look at the mile, Kavanagh is confident they can get the distance.
“At his last two wins, Jay Ford (jockey) has had to ride the ears off the horse early to gt into a position because he was racing on ‘leaderish’ tracks,” Karakatsanis said.
“We have had to use him up to get as close as we can to the leaders but going to 1600 metres, I don’t feel we will have to use him up as much.
“He does have a very good turn of foot at the end of his races but he’s still learning because in every win, once he’s got to the front he has tended to wander around.”
Meanwhile, two former Group 1 winners will look to break lengthy droughts with Peter Snowden’s 2010 Spring Champion Stakes hero Erewhon and Joe Pride’s 2010 Queensland Oaks champion Miss Keepsake.
The 2011 Villiers Stakes final field and barriers are due for release on Wednesday and will be published right here at Races.com.au.
2011 Villiers Stakes Weights & Ballot
|1||KING LIONHEART||Gai Waterhouse||1=||58kg||100|
|3||SOLID BILLING||Craig Ritchie||3||56kg||96|
|4||SHADOWFAX (NZ)||Mark Kavanagh||4||55kg||94|
|5||ALTERED BOY||Chris Waller||5||54.5kg||93|
|6||ALEXANDER OF HALES (USA)||Chris Waller||6=||54kg||92|
|8||ZARA DANCER (NZ)||Jim & Greg Lee||6=||54kg||92|
|9||NEW DAY RISING||Gary Portelli||11||53kg||90|
|11||CODE WORD||John Marzol||19||52kg||81|
|13||KONTIKI PARK (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||13||52kg||88|
|15||MISS KEEPSAKE (NZ)||Joseph Pride||10||52kg||91|
|16||MY DESTINY||Con Karakatsanis||18||52kg||83|
|17||STRAIGHT ALBERT||Guy Walter||20||52kg||80|
|19||VIVA LAS||Neville & Christopher Voigt||15=||52kg||85|
|20||WITHOUT COMPROMISE||Kevin Moses||17||52kg||84|