Villa Verde Primed for Carlyon Stakes Return

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.

Villa Verde will return to racing in this weekend's Listed Carlyon Stakes

Villa Verde will return to racing in this weekend's Listed Carlyon Stakes. Photo: Steve Hart

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.

Leading online bookie is currently offering the best odds on the 2014 Carlyon Stakes, for which Villa Verde is available at a generous quote of $5.50 for success.

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