How Sir Moments stacks up in Sydney’s Festival Stakes 2014 this Saturday will give his Brisbane-based trainer Steven O’Dea a better idea of whether he’s good enough to continue onto the $175,000 Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick next month.
The December 13 Sydney Summer Racing Carnival feature has been the long-term goal for the Choisir gelding since his smart efforts at home in Queensland during the winter.
Sir Moments enjoyed a narrow victory in the final stride over Liberty’s Choice in the Group 2 Queensland Guineas (1400m) on May 31 at Eagle Farm only to return to the track seven days later and win again this time by half a length in the Listed Daybreak Lover Stakes (1600m).
He returned off a nearly five month break at Doomben on November 1 to run a close third behind Hopfgarten over 1350m then handled the notoriously tricky Gold Coast circuit to win an open handicap over 1400m on November 15 with Timothy Bell in the saddle once again.
“That was his first win against all-aged horses and the way he did it under the big weight was pleasing,” O’Dea said of the win.
“The Gold Coast isn’t the easiest track and in the end he was dominant.”
His regular rider Bell now makes the trip south for Saturday’s ride in the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m), the key lead-up race to the 2014 Villiers Stakes.
Drawn in double digits with barrier 11, Sir Moments is the early Festival Stakes betting market mover through Ladbrokes.com.au firming in from an opening quote of $5.50 right into $4.80 to defeat the favourite Generalife ($4.60) representing Godolphin.
O’Dea made a quick trip to Sydney earlier in the week to watch a Sydney gallop from Sir Moments, stabled with John Thompson for his interstate summer bid, and was thrilled with the work.
“He worked on the steeple grass this morning in smart time which showed me he had settled in well,” he said on Tuesday.
“It’s his first trip away and we have taken our time with him.
“We decided to give him a decent break after the winter and not to go to Group One races too soon.
“We could have gone to Sydney or Melbourne but he is a tall, leggy horse and still developing.
“He is out of a Zabeel mare and they take time. He is a horse of the future.”
Now he’s hoping that form can carry over to race day for the horse’s run in the Festival Stakes, which could then lead to Group 2 glory in three weeks’ time.
“We are testing the waters with the Villiers to see where he fits,” O’Dea added.
The other most notable Festival Stakes hopes this year are then the Chris Waller-trained Ladies Day Cup winner Strawberry Boy ($8) and Tony McEvoy’s Grand Slam stallion Mouro ($9.50).
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