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The feature race wins for in-form trainer Mark Newnham continued at Royal Randwick on Saturday with the progressive Quackerjack earning a 2020 Doncaster Mile ballot exemption with a gutsy win in the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m).
Just two starts back the Not A Single doubt gelding won the Goulburn Cup (1400m) before a last start second behind Mister Sea Wolf in the $1 million The Gong (1600m).
Stepping-up notably in grade for the Villiers Stakes, four-year-old Quackerjack again fought it out in a tough photo-finish with Kris Lees’ class mare Invincible Gem giving it to the favourite in the closing stages.
“Everybody loves him because he tries so hard, he gets out and does all the work himself,” winning trainer Newnham said after the race.
“He raises another effort all the time.”
Jockey Rachel King continued her growing association with Quackerjack in the Villiers Stakes, things not quite going to plan in the early parts of the race.
After jumping away well from the gates alongside the 59kg topweight Invincible Gem, Quackerjack was caught out really deep as the roughie Mushaireb led the field around.
Not content to sit back, King pushed forward on the favourite and headed Mushaireb for the lead as Goodfella and Gold Fields settled third and fourth respectively in the run.
Leading along the rails, Quackerjack was in front around the turn and looked the winner nearly all the way up the straight.
Improving from a midfield position in sixth, Invincible Gem was quick on the scene going after the front runner.
The tenacious Quackerjack fought back in a ripping photo-finish, getting the win by the bob of his head.
“He’s the toughest horse I’ve ever ridden,” King said of the Villiers Stakes winner.
“He just does not lie down…he’s just a champion.
“He just keeps progressing. Every time we ask him a question he keeps answering, so fingers crossed (for the Doncaster Mile).”
Despite looking a winning chance before seeing the photo, jockey Hugh Bowman said the team were still very proud of Invincible Gem who nearly made history carrying that weight to a Villiers Stakes victory.
“She thinks she won, I thought she won. We didn’t get the bob but very proud of her,” he said.
Also finishing off well was the eye-catching Chris Waller-trained third placegetter Sambro having just his second run since January.
Sambro looks on track for a second shot at the $1 million Magic Millions Cup (1400m) at this summer’s Gold Coast meeting on January 11 having run second in the race earlier this year.
“He’s not far off the mark. There’s a nice race (Magic Millions Cup) on the Gold Coast in January for him,” Sambro’s Villiers Stakes jockey James McDonald said.
The Villiers Stakes winner earns a ballot free ride into the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) the following autumn back over the track and distance and pre-field markets on the classic have firmed on Quackerjack to do the double.
Held in early April as part of Sydney’s ‘The Championships’, the 2020 Doncaster Mile odds at Ladbrokes.com.au on Quackerjack are in from $51 to $31.
2019 Villiers Stakes Results & Finishing Order
|1||5||QUACKERJACK||Mark Newnham||Ms Rachel King||–||10||56kg||$3.80F|
|2||1||INVINCIBLE GEM||Kris Lees||Hugh Bowman||0.1L||2||59kg||$12|
|3||4||SAMBRO||Chris Waller||James McDonald||0.3L||1||56.5kg||$19|
|4||10||GOODFELLA||Bjorn Baker||Jason Collett||1.4L||6||54.5kg||$16|
|5||15||MUSHAIREB (GB)||Richard & Michael Freedman||Glyn Schofield||2.2L||7||53kg (cd 53.5kg)||$21|
|6||9||SIREN’S FURY||Jason Coyle||Tim Clark||2.3L||11||54.5kg||$31|
|7||14||BOBBING||Bernie Kelly||Robbie Dolan (a)||2.5L||3||53kg||$7|
|8||2||GOLD FIELDS||Logan McGill||Nash Rawiller||2.6L||4||58.5kg||$21|
|9||12||AQUA D’IVINA||Matthew Smith||Jean Van Overmeire (a)||3L||9||53kg||$61|
|10||3||EL DORADO DREAMING||Kris Lees||Brenton Avdulla||3.2L||5||57kg||$8|
|11||6||RANIER||James Cummings||Kerrin McEvoy||3.4L||8||55.5kg||$9|
|12||7||LIVE AND FREE (NZ)||John O’Shea||Glen Boss||3.6L||12||55kg||$7.50|
|13||8||NOBLE BOY||Todd Blowes||Tommy Berry||4.1L||13||55kg||$13|
|–||11||LE JUGE (IRE)||Chris Waller||Jay Ford||–||0||–||–|
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