Sydney gelding Malavio is in fine form heading into Saturday week’s Group 2 2012 Villiers Stakes (1600m) after a tough win in the Listed 2012 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
The four-year-old held off a game effort from the experienced Monton to claim the second stakes win of his career by a half-length.
The $175,000 Villiers Stakes, which will take place at Malavio’s home track at Warwick Farm, has been in the sights of trainer Steve Englebrecht since the promising galloper opened his campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Group 2 Shorts in September.
Nathan Berry has ridden Malavio in his eight most recent starts and gave him a glowing report heading towards the Villiers.
The rising hoop said he was impressed with the gelding’s toughness on Saturday and thinks he will be hard to beat if he can get a more ideal run.
“He did it the tough way on Saturday so if he can get a nice cosy run in the Villiers I think he’ll be very hard to beat again,” Berry said.
Also a possibility of lining up in the Villiers Stakes is consistent gelding Scream Machine who impressed when winning a BM85 event at Rosehill on Saturday.
Trained by Jason Coyle, Scream Machine has barely put a foot wrong this preparation, finishing in the top three in five starts since opening his campaign with a sixth-place finish at Canterbury in October.
Jockey Kathy O’Hara said after the race that the improving galloper still has plenty to learn but believes he has the potential to compete in higher grades.
“When he learns to settle he’ll be a decent racehorse, but for the time being he’s going a bit hard in his races and doing a little bit wrong,” O’Hara said.
“But today [Saturday] he did everything right.”
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