A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
Trainer Aaron Purcell is hoping to capitalise on the eye-catching Sandown Guineas success of Villermont from the weekend in the autumn with the up-and-coming colt to target the Rosehill Guineas 2017 over the ATC Derby.
Purcell, who replaced the suspended Ciaron Maher, has been flying high this spring with his success headlined by the Group 1 $500,000 Thousand Guineas (1600m) victory of Aloisia and Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) win of Merchant Navy.
The Caulfield-based horseman looks to have uncovered another potential Group 1 winner in Villermont, the progressive son of All Too Hard posting his first black-type success last Saturday at Ladbrokes Park.
“He’s a very big horse and he’s just taken some time to grow into himself,” Purcell said on Saturday.
“He moves like a machine at home and he’s just going to develop into a really nice horse.”
In the key support act of Zipping Classic Day, Villermont narrowly defeated the Darren Weir-trained Peaceful State (2nd) and the fellow Purcell-trained Black Sail (3rd) with just a half-length separating the Group 2 $250,000 Ladbrokes Sandown Guineas (1600m) trifecta.
It was the winner’s second career success from four starts and his first stakes assignment, Villermont making up all the ground coming from last on the turn to reel in all of his rivals.
Purcell is already looking ahead to next year’s autumn riches, including a likely early run at home at Flemington on March 3 in the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas (1600m) for the Vinery Stud-bred Villermont.
“He’s definitely going to be better in the autumn and we only really wanted to give him a light spring so for him to win here is a great sign for next year,” he said.
A possible lead-up into that will be the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) on February 17, a race that has produced the past three Australian Guineas winners including Wandjina (2015) and Hey Doc (2017) who both did the double.
Should Villermont handle the Group 1 assignment in Melbourne a trip up to the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival calls with Purcell naming the Group 1 $600,000 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) on March 24 as the major aim.
The Group 1 $2 million Australian Derby (2400m) runs on April 7 at Royal Randwick and could prove too difficult a staying challenge for Villermont, but could potentially be on the cards for fellow Rosehill Guineas-bound Sandown Guineas placegetter Black Sail.
“He’s been stiff not to win one of these races and he ran super again,” Purcell said of the third placed Savabeel colt.
“He might be more of a [Rosehill] Guineas horse and a [Derby] horse.”
Mongolian Khan (5th in 2015) was the last ATC Derby winner to back directly off a Rosehill Guineas run, while the year before Criterion (2014) did the double.
To get behind Sandown Guineas winner Villermont over the autumn at the hottest racing odds online, head to Ladbrokes.com.au today.
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