After being scratched from last Saturday’s Christmas Cup, Craig Ritchie’s veteran seven-year-old Solid Billing is set to bounce back at Warwick Farm this weekend in the 2011 Villiers Stakes, setting up for the their bid to collect a second Summer Cup title later in the year.
Winner of the 2009 Summer Cup, Rock Of Gibraltar gelding Solid billing ran a credible fifth when beaten under two lengths by Zara Dancer in the Listed Frank Underwood Cup (1900m) on November 26 on a Slow (7) Canterbury track last time out.
Accepted for the Christmas Cup at Rosehill last weekend, Solid Billing was withdrawn having shown signs of tying up leading up to the race.
Ritchie is confident they are back to full fitness, however, and heads into this Saturday’s $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) confident the horse will put in a good run.
“He has had a problem typing up before but he’s fine now,” Ritchie confirmed.
“He didn’t miss any work.”
A genuine stayer, having run third in the Sydney Cup (3200m) back in April on a drenched Heavy (10) Randwick track, Solid Billing is far from ideally suited to the mile of the Villiers Stakes on Saturday but the race is really a preparatory run for the $125,000 Group 3 Summer Cup (2400m) at Rosehill on Boxing Day.
“Running over 1600 metres isn’t ideal but he needs the race because I still want to take him to the Summer Cup over 2400 metres on Boxing Day,” Ritchie said.
They will also be aided on Saturday with the wet weather in Sydney tipped to continue meaning a Slow – Heavy Warwick Farm course is on the cards.
“He needs the cut out of the ground and he has run well over 1600 metres in New Zealand in the past,” Ritchie added.
There are currently 20 Villiers Stakes entries, which will be cut at acceptance stage on Wednesday revealing the capacity 16-starter final field.
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