Performing well over four starts through the 2014 Autumn Carnival, jockey Mark Zahra is expecting talented four-year-old Villa Verde to return to racing in ideal form for this weekend’s Listed Carlyon Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley.
A standout competitor over the entire 2013 Australian racing calendar, Villa Verde has not been seen at the races since running on to finish a credible fourth in the Group 1 Robert Sangster Classic (1200m) at Morphettville on April 26th, and reportedly took well to her time in the paddock.
Pleased with the feel the daughter of Not A Single Doubt offered up in a gallop at Moonee Valley on Tuesday morning, Zahra told AAP that while unconvinced by Villa Verde’s wide barrier allocation, he is confident her class will translate to a successful first-up performance in the 2014 Carlyon Stakes.
“She’s a lovely mare to ride. She didn’t turn a hair there,” Zahra said of Villa Verde’s Tuesday hit-out.
“She just ran up with a partner and did everything right and ran good time.
“I would have liked to have drawn a touch closer to the fence but it looks a nice race for her first-up.
“Villa Verde is Group performed. In that sort of field on Saturday you’d think she has got the class about her.”
Securing a credible record of three wins and as many minor places from just 13 competitive race starts so far, Villa Verde claimed impressive back-to-back victories in the Listed Debutants Stakes (1000m) and Listed 7 News Plate (1000m) over her maiden preparation through the 2012 spring, returning in 2013 for second in the Group 2 Moet & Chandon Stakes (1200m) and a mid-pack finish in the Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m).
Continuing to build in form and class through the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival, which peaked with a strong run for fourth in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) most notably, the mare out of Young And Free arguably hit career-best form so-far upon returning to the track this year; winning the Group 2 Challenge Stakes (1000m) first-up and finishing third in the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) most notably on March 29th.
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