Chris Waller’s fillies dominate the nominations...
Jockey Glyn Schofield has described his Villiers Stakes 2015 ride Casino Dancer as a “machine” and rates the super tough mare a livewire hope in the Royal Randwick summer showdown on Saturday.
A bumper field of 20 milers face off in this year’s $250,000 Group 2 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) including a host of last-start winners looking to keep the good times going.
One of those is Schofield’s mount, the Mike Van Gestel-trained Casino Dancer who is drawn a treat in barrier three.
The five-year-old daughter of Casino Prince has won two of her past four starts including the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m) last time out at Sandown on November 14.
Her other most recent win was at Randwick, where she returns on Saturday, back on October 10 for a big two length win over Wine Tales in the Group 3 Angst Stakes (1600m) as a $41 outsider in betting.
The mighty mare’s ace form this campaign, including a third to Sunday’s 2015 Hong Kong Cup hope Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 Matriarch Stakes (2000m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, sees her much shorter in Villiers Stakes betting this weekend.
The latest Villiers Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, who are offering Best Tote or SP + 20% on the Group 2 this Saturday, have Happy Clapper as the $4.80 favourite as he drops down to just 53kg on the back of two recent Sydney wins.
Casino Dancer meanwhile is rated a $17 hope by the bookies despite her equally good form and draw for the handicap feature.
Schofield takes over from James Winks in the saddle this Saturday, the fourth hoop in as many starts to jump aboard, and was full of pre-race praise for the mare who has her 53rd career start in the Villiers Stakes.
“She’s the toughest mare in the land,” Schofield announced to The Daily Telegraph this week speaking of the horse who has her 15th start this campaign on Saturday.
“They don’t come much tougher.”
Long preparations and an average of one run every two and a half weeks over her career has seen Casino Dancer handle seven-day back-ups on plenty of occasions, something Schofield said highlighted her talent and tenacity.
“She ran in a Group 1 over 2000m at three (Vinery Stud Stakes), backed up a week later in the Carbine Club over the mile and then ran in the (ATC) Oaks (2400m) the next week,” he said of her autumn campaign in 2014.
“She’s a machine and there would be very few horses in the whole country that have her toughness.
“Amazingly, the hard racing has done her the world of good. A look at her form will tell you that.”
Her Hawkesbury-based trainer Van Gestel credits much of her good recent form to the addition of blinkers to her gear, and while she has won just one of her 18 previous Randwick assignments Schofield is confident heading into the Villiers.
“Her form has been what you want to see for a horse going into the Villiers and she’s right in this race,” he said.
“Her racing pattern will suit Randwick and even though she’s had a few weeks between runs, she’s done plenty of racing this time in and will carry goo residual fitness.”
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