Local Warwick Farm trainer Guy Walter could be without representation in the Villiers Stakes 2011 at his home track this weekend with Straight Albert far from a confirmed starter in the Group 2 feature.
One of 20 horses currently nominated for the $175,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) on Saturday, Magic Albert four-year-old Straight Albert may be forced to bypass the race due to the change of location and subsequent limiting of field sizes.
Traditionally held at Royal Randwick, the 2011 Villiers Stakes Day program is due to run at Warwick Farm this year due to redevelopment at Randwick.
Last seen holding on in a tight finish to win the Goulburn Cup (1600m) on November 18 in record time (1:33.19) Straight Albert would definitely be in the Villiers Stakes were it held at Randwick which can accommodate a field size of 20 starters.
Warwick Farm, however, has a capacity field size of 16 starters meaning Straight Albert, 20th on the Villiers Stakes ballot, could be forced out of the race if at least four horses above him in the order of entry don’t withdraw.
“As it stands he is 20th out of 20 in the ballot and he’ll probably end up first or second emergency,” a frustrated Walter said.
Formerly prepared by Michael Dobie, Straight Albert joined Walter’s operation in early spring and has had three runs for his new trainer so far.
He has been competitive in all three running second at Randwick over 1200 metres in October, a close third to Mossamine in a 1400 metre handicap at Randwick when blocked for a run in early November and then their Goulburn Cup win, which was their fourth career win from 15 starts.
If forced out of the Villiers Stakes, Walter still plans to take advantage of the soft-track conditions in Sydney this weekend and has entered Straight Albert for a $70,000 Benchmark 80 Handicap over the mile on Saturday as a back-up.
“Even though he might lack that little bit of brilliance for a mile around Warwick Farm I would like to see him get a run in the Villiers,” Walter said.
“There’s a plan B and he will run in the benchmark race if he can’t get into the Villiers field.”
The official 2011 Villiers Stakes field and barriers are due for release on Wednesday, Races.com.au to publish the list of acceptors and gates.
Be prepared for a punt this weekend by opening the online betting account you’ve always meant to!