Talented three-year-old Villa Verde has overcome a particularly talented field to win the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) at Royal Randwick today; her first start under the care of trainer Anthony Cummings.
Having broken from the gates only fairly, the classy Not A Single Doubt filly settled four lengths off the pace over the back straight, rounding the bend in a tight bunch with close to all nine of her competitors and displaying a keen turn of foot to break from the pack and overcome several previous winners at Group 1 level, diving past Snitzerland only 20 metres from the line.
Cummings was quick to praise the efforts of Villa Verde’s previous trainer Shaun Dwyer, and outlined the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) as the major target after today’s strong victory.
“Her first two wins were blistering over the 1000 metres” Cummings told the media following the win.
“When she came to me I talked to Shaun and we had a couple of long chats about what he’d been through with her and why he thought she’d be better placed in Sydney.
“She came to me in very good shape and with very good grounding and that’s sort of part of the reason why she could do this today.
“I honestly came here expecting to win, but I’m built that way.
“I said to the boys they just don’t work like that and not win. I know there’s some really smart sprinters in the field and they probably worked similarly, but for us that’s just in the works.
“She goes to The Galaxy next and then we’ll have a look at the weight-for-age race over 1200m worth a bit of money later on.”
Jockey James McDonald delivered a typically brilliant ride on Villa Verde in the Challenge Stakes, and said she is well and truly in with a shot of Group 1 glory this preparation.
“She travelled just beautifully like she did in her trial” McDonald said following the ride.
“I rode her to just suck-up, and got that last run at them, got on the back of the right horse and she did the rest.
“She was once favourite for a Slipper, so she’s no slug herself.
“She’s definitely well up to it.”
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2014 Challenge Stakes Results
|1||10||VILLA VERDE||Anthony Cummings||James McDonald||–||5||54kg||$14|
|2||7||SNITZERLAND||Gerald Ryan||Brenton Avdulla||0.5L||8||56.5kg||$3.10F|
|3||3||FAMOUS SEAMUS (NZ)||Noel Mayfield-Smith||Tim Clark||1.3L||6||58.5kg||$61|
|4||2||BEL SPRINTER||Jason Warren||Craig Newitt||1.4L||10||58.5kg||$8.50|
|5||9||WHITTINGTON||Gai Waterhouse||Tommy Berry||1.5L||4||56kg||$17|
|6||4||SESSIONS||Peter Snowden||Kerrin McEvoy||1.6L||7||58.5kg||$6|
|7||1||BUFFERING||Robert Heathcote||Damian Browne||1.7L||3||58.5kg||$3.30|
|8||5||TEMPLE OF BOOM||Tony Gollan||Hugh Bowman||1.8L||9||58.5kg||$31|
|9||6||TIGER TEES (NZ)||Joseph Pride||Nash Rawiller||2.2L||1||58.5kg||$41|
|10||8||SATIN SHOES||Clarry Conners||Blake Shinn||3.5L||2||56.5kg||$101|