The bookmakers are having a hard time separating the chances of the top two acceptors for the 2014 Villiers Stakes on Saturday with Strawberry Boy and Sir Moments currently sharing top spot in the markets.
A final field of 15 milers faces off in this year’s $175,000 Group 2 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m), the handicap clash running as Randwick Race 6 at 4:15pm (AEDT) on the weekend in Sydney.
Of those the top two in Villiers Stakes betting at Ladbrokes.com.au are the Chris Waller-trained Strawberry Boy and Steven O’Dea’s Sir Moments both at $5.50 to win the Sydney Summer Racing Carnival feature.
One of three in the race for the country’s most prolific Group 1 winning trainer for the year, Strawberry Boy has come up trumps with barrier one and Jim Cassidy to ride.
A first-up winner of the Listed Daides Day Cup (1400m) at Hawkesbury on November 6, the Redoute’s Choice six-year-old was last seen running third behind his stable mate I’m Imposing in the $100,000 Listed Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill a fortnight ago.
He’s in flying form and should improve again going up to a mile, a distance he’s undefeated over with two previous 1600m wins.
He also drops back from 57.5kg last start to 57kg and so looks well positioned to enjoy a Group 2 win.
His major rival Sir Moments meanwhile had opposite luck in the Villiers Stakes barrier draw coming up with gate 14, the second widest.
The Choisir four-year-old’s regular rider Timothy Bell stays on with Sir Moments shooting for his second win from three starts this time in.
He comes off a Festival Stakes fifth when beaten under two lengths and is looking for his first Group 2 win since a narrow victory over Liberty’s Choice in the Queensland Guineas over 1400m at Eagle Farm back in May.
Following the two favourites there are then four other single figure chances with:
- #11 Rose Of Choice ($7.50) – Peter & Paul Snowden-trained Choisir mare hasn’t won for a while but her lead-up form has been consistently good including a Group 3 second at Flemington on Cup Day and a fourth in Sandown’s Summond Stakes on November 15 last start. Won a Warwick Farm trial since and will relish getting in on the 53kg minimum which is the lightest she’s carried all season. Top light weight chance even from the wide barrier (11).
- #12 Rudy ($7.50) – Gold Coast galloper from the stables of Helen Page, this Red Dazzler four-year-old ran back-to-back seconds at Doomben first and second up then improved to win the Listed Recognition Stakes (1630m) there on November 29. Should be flying over the mile again, regular hoop Luke Tarrant stays on and barrier six suits as does the 53kg.
- #8 Estonian Princess ($8) – Scott Aspery’s Snitzel mare has a Group 3 third and Group 1 form this campaign when fifth in the Myer Classic over the Flemington mile last month. Her latest effort was a devastatingly close second in the Festival Stakes, this race’s premier lead-up, where she had barrier 1 and 54kg. Brenton Avdulla stays on, barrier seven looks okay and she drops half a kilo to 53.5kg which works in her favour.
- #4 I’m Imposing ($9) – Waller’s Festival Stakes winner is the veteran of the field but this nine-year-old showed he still had it with his last start success over a similar field. Probably won’t have as much luck here as he’s one of the few from that race going up in the weights (55.5kg to 56.5kg) and has drawn out in 12 but still a genuine place chance with the right run.
Other notable hopes at more generous odds then include the in-form Sandown Stakes runner-up General Groove ($15) and Waller’s third runner Multilateral ($19) coming off a first-up sixth in the Festival Stakes he should be improving on here with a better barrier (3).
See below for the full 2014 Villiers Stakes betting markets, prices open online now at Ladbrokes.com.au – home of the $500 bonus welcome bet offer!