2013 Villiers Stakes Field Takes Shape

One of the biggest end-of-season Sydney summer showdowns is the Villiers Stakes 2013 set to run at Warwick Farm Racecourse on December 22 and a number of smart gallopers are starting to gear up for the quality handicap clash.

Among the horses heading towards this year’s $157,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) is the Bede Murray-trained Darci Be Good who earned a shot at the mile feature after their good win in the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup on November 8.

Not having won a race before that since their Group 3 Spring Stakes success over the 1600m at Newcastle in September last year, after which they ran a close second to Doctor Doom in the Group 1 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick, the Darci Brahma four-year-old caught the eye at Hawkesbury when defeating Icopach by just under half a length.

Now their Kembla Grange-based trainer Murray is hoping the drought is officially over and that Darci Be Good can keep the winning form going in the 2013 Villiers Stakes which they will likely head to via the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on December 8.

“The Villiers is the race we want with him this time,” Murray said.

“He has been down at the farm and has had a pretty easy time since Hawkesbury.

“We’ll nominate for the Goulburn Cup but he will probably go to the Festival Stakes.

“He’s still an immature horse and I don’t think we’ll see the best of him until next year.

“It’s just been a question of giving him the time to mature.

“I think eventually he will get up to a mile-and-a-quarter (2000m) but for now we’ll keep him at the mile.”

Another recent winner that earned a shot at the Villiers Stakes this summer is then Matthew Smith’s six-year-old Al Maher mare Cabernet who won the Listed Summond Stakes (1500m) at Sandown over the weekend.

Her first victory for Smith having previously been prepared by Grahame Begg, Cabernet will also go to the Festival Stakes leading into the Villiers.

“Ideally I’d like to have a crack at the Villiers with her,” Smith said.

“She ran out a strong mile and was narrowly beaten in the Aspiration Quality (when second to Fibrillation in March) last preparation under the care of her previous trainer.

“I’m still learning about the horse. She has only had the three runs for me but from what I’ve seen and what she has done there is no reason why she couldn’t be competitive in a race like the Villiers.

“She was bouncing around (after the win at Sandown) and has pulled up in great shape.

“If she comes back home in the same condition, we will press on.”

The Villiers Stakes winner will be exempt from ballot for one of the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival’s richest races – the $2 million Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Royal Randwick on April 20.

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