Trainer Ciaron Maher is looking to step his...
Godolphin trainer James Cummings may be saddling-up the favourite Interlocuter in Saturday’s 2017 Villiers Stakes field but he has also warned punters not to rule out stablemate Federal from the mile classic.
A fifteen horse field takes to the track for this year’s Group 2 $250,000 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) including the flying Interlocuter chasing his fourth win on the trot.
Drawn favourably in barrier four with Tye Angland to ride on 54.5kg, the ultra-consistent Medaglia D’Oro five-year-old brings the gun lead-up form but still needs to prove his ability at Group 2 level.
“Interlocuter is going to have to really get to the next level to be looking good against those horses,” Cummings told Racing NSW.
“I feel he has had a good prep for the Villiers but it’s a really hard race to win and he finds himself in there down in the weights.
“The horse couldn’t be going better in our eyes but it is a big step up to be competitive in a time-honoured Group 2 handicap.
“He has to go out and do it yet and we’ve been racing him through his grades for a reason. We have our feet on the ground with him.”
Also a son of Medaglia D’Oro, six-year-old Federal has not won a race since March of 2016.
That is a notable drought to break on the weekend, but Cumming took encouragement from the horse’s sixth in the Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill a fortnight back when only one and three-quarter lengths beaten.
“I feel like the horse is going well, he wasn’t beaten far and wasn’t suited by the downpour before the Festival,” Cummings said.
“He’s trained strongly for it and I wouldn’t be counting him out.”
The Villiers Stakes winner is exempt from ballot for next autumn’s Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) during ‘The Championships’.
Despite admitting Interlocuter will need to rise a level to salute on Saturday, Cummings is still confident the favourite could just come out and win.
“He’s raced through his grades quite rapidly but we haven’t been in any rush to drop him in the deep end before now,” Cummings said.
“I’d rather have the horse do the talking than anyone else. He gets his opportunity to show whether he gets to that level.”
Interlocuter has won his past three starts this time in bringing his overall career record up to six victories from nine starts and was last seen saluting as the odds-on favourite in the $100,000 November Topaz (1900m) on the 18th of last month at Rosehill.
“He pulled up great from Rosehill and he looks really well within himself,” Cummings said.
“I’d be surprised if he wasn’t one of the standouts in the yard.
“When I think back on his 1600m effort second-up it reads really well but he will need to be at his best.
“We’re not pigeonholing him yet. He’s rewarding us all the time and from our perspective that’s the main thing.”
Check out the latest Villiers Stakes 2017 odds for the weekend online now through Ladbrokes.com.au.
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