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This Saturday marks Villiers Stakes Day at Royal Randwick Racecourse with the feature race attracting a field size of 15.
Ron Quinton’s eight-year-old Monton returns to the Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) for the fourth consecutive year though the gelding has been met with a few challenges in his quest for another win in the $175,000 race.
Randwick received its share of rain overnight with more predicted to fall before Saturday. A wet track would not help Monton’s bid to win the race, especially considering he will carry the top weight of 59kg. Quinton revealed the gelding may not go around if the weather continues to downgrade the track.
“We had another 11mm of rain last night at Randwick and I know the track can be anything but wet and more rain is predicted for the next day or two which is a bit unfortunate; we can’t control the weather,” Quinton told RSN Thursday morning.
“If it gets really bad I may have to check with the owners because he is carrying 59kg. He’s used to carrying a bit of weight but on the same token it’s a big test.”
Monton first ran the Villiers Stakes in 2011, winning over one length clear despite jumping wide from barrier 15. He finished midfield the following year, two and a half lengths away from the win, before just missing out on a placing in last year’s edition when he jumped from barrier one and carried his lowest weight of 55kg.
This morning the gelding saw his price drift significantly out from $21 to $34 in the Villiers Stakes betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au.
While it can be argued that Monton races better at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse than Randwick, Quinton isn’t worried about his run considering he’ll jump from barrier five with Sam Clipperton in the saddle – a patient jockey who gets horses to run for him.
“Everyone is saying that but last preparation he won three at Randwick. He’s probably much less on grade than the others running in the Villiers of course but I’ve got no fear that Randwick will stop him,” Quinton said.
“He won’t be far away, he should be in the first five or six at least. He ought to be nicely placed from barrier five.”
Despite getting up in age, Quinton revealed Monton still possesses the “zest for racing” and will continue to run him as long as he keeps it up.
“He’s been a wonderful old stable favourite, eight years old and a lovely sound horse. He keeps the zest up for racing so it’s all good,” he said.
The Steven O’dea-trained Sir Moments is the favourite to win the Villiers Stakes at this stage, with a price of $4.80 followed by Strawberry Boy and Estonian Princess at $6.50.
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