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After an earlier spring slump trainer Gerald Ryan is thrilled to see his eight-year-old galloper Red Excitement back to his best form ahead of Saturday’s Villiers Stakes 2017 in Sydney.
The 50-start veteran son of Excites may not have won a race since January’s Listed Gosford Cup (2100m), but the Rosehill-based Ryan is confident Red Excitement is building towards another victory.
The horseman is hoping that comes this weekend in the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick, an event Red Excitement contested back in 2015 when a disappointing 15th to Happy Clapper.
He bypassed last year’s Villiers Stakes but still enjoyed a strong Sydney Summer Racing Carnival campaign that included a third in the Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) and next-up Boxing Day race win at Randwick in the Group 3 $150,000 Summer Cup (2000m) by three lengths.
Red Excitement then defeated last year’s Villiers Stakes winner Sense Of Occasion in the aforementioned Goulburn Cup.
His form since has been hit and miss, but a spring highlight included his exciting front-running effort in September’s Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) when just run down by the world’s best Winx for second.
Four unplaced runs followed, but Ryan believes the last start third to Testashadow when only a quarter-length beaten in a fast-finishing effort in the Festival Stakes on December 2 proves Red Excitement is back to his former self.
“He’s going as good now as any stage of his career,” Ryan told AAP.
“He’s feeling happy and working really well.”
Jockey Brenton Avdulla retains the ride on Red Excitement on Saturday and the latest all-in Villiers Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au have the horse at $11 to win.
“Brenton Avdulla will ride him,” Ryan confirmed.
After carting 59.5kg in the Festival Stakes, Red Excitement should also appreciate coming back to 58kg in the Villiers Stakes weights.
Heading the kilos with 59kg is the Joe Pride-trained Destiny’s Kiss, a rising 10-year-old whose last start on October 21 at Randwick produced a Listed Tattersall’s Cup (2400m) win with 60kg over the mile and a half.
The warhorse stayer is only rated a $51 roughie in Villiers Stakes betting, markets led by the James Cummings-trained Interlocuter ($3.20) chasing four wins on the trot this time in.
Equal with Red Excitement on $11 meanwhile is the Robert Heathcote-trained Hopfgarten on the quick back-up after his second in last weekend’s Listed Brisbane Handicap (1600m) at Doomben.
A luckless fifth from the outside barrier (14 of 14) in last year’s Villiers Stakes results, Hopfgarten returns to Randwick for just the second time and has his 56th career start on Saturday.
To get behind your early Villiers Stakes 2017 tips at pre-field pricing head to Ladbrokes.com.au today before final acceptances are taken on Wednesday.
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