The countdown to the Sydney Spring Racing...
A class line-up of summer milers faces off at Royal Randwick on Saturday in the Villiers Stakes 2021 field with a ballot exemption into next year’s Doncaster Mile up for grabs.
This season’s Group 2 $750,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) has attracted a full field with the sole emergency Lease (10) coming in for early withdrawal Lightning Jack (18).
It is an open affair in the now very lucrative quality handicap clash where the Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou-trained stablemates Ellsberg and Steely are battling for favouritism.
Current narrow favourite in the Villiers Stakes odds online at Ladbrokes.com.au is Spill The Beans four-year-old Ellsberg ($4.60) in gate nine with Tim Clark to ride.
Last start Ellsberg won the Group 3 Festival Stakes (1500m) on a Heavy (9) track at Rosehill carrying 53kg and he gets another mud course at Randwick on Saturday.
Suited to the wet conditions, the progressive entire goes up to 56kg and chases his first win over the mile fifth-up and rock hard fit off a strong preparation.
Monton (2011) was the last horse to complete the Festival Stakes – Villiers Stakes double and there’s money for Ellsberg to be the next this season.
The danger occupying the second line of Villiers Stakes betting is stablemate Steely carrying 53kg from gate four with Kerrin McEvoy riding.
A five-year-old son of All Too Hard, Steely is the only other last start winner in the field having carted a hefty 60kg to victory over the mile at Kembla Grange on Soft going on November 20.
Dropping big weight for his rise in grade in the Villiers, he is a gun mudlark with three wins from four previous starts on Heavy going and is deserving of his conservative $4.80 price in the markets.
Two other runners chasing the Doncaster Mile 2022 ballot exemption are under double-figures to win on Saturday with the Joe Pride-trained duo Brutality ($8.50) and Stockman ($9) drawn gates 13 and 16 respectively.
Shamus Award five-year-old Brutality is nil from five at Randwick, but is a two-time winner in the wet.
He was far from disgraced when fourth in the Festival Stakes two back before a last start third on December 4 over 1400m in a Benchmark 88 at Rosehill carrying 60.5kg.
Suited to a step back-up in distance to a mile, Brutality also comes back notably in weight getting on 53kg so ticks a number of boxes for this tougher grade assignment.
The fellow Pride-trained Stockman may be drawn wide, but he is fit third-up with Jay Ford in the saddle on 56kg.
The Kiwi-bred son of Tavistock has an outstanding Heavy track record (5:3-2-0) and looked back in form when runner-up in the Festival Stakes at big odds last time out second-up off a four-month let-up.
Festival Stakes third-placegetter Bandersnatch also backs-up in the Villiers on the weekend carrying the equal 59kg topweight from barrier one and paying $13 to win.
He was drawn the rails last time out when three lengths off Ellsberg in the traditional lead-up and is another proven Heavy track performer (6:2-1-1) right in the mix.
The weight works against him however as Monton (58kg in 2011) is the only Villiers Stakes winner to have carried more than 56kg to victory in the race since Utzon (57.5kg) in 2006.
Jockey Rachel King meanwhile chases a third consecutive Villiers Stakes victory following her recent successes aboard the Mark Newnham-trained stablemates Quackerjack (2019) and Greysful Glamour (2020).
This year she partners the James Cummings-trained Criaderas for Godolphin, the son of Lonhro third in the race last year only a half-length beaten.
This summer Criaderas is rated a $14 chance to post his first win in the wet on the back of an eighth when four lengths off Count De Rupee on November 20 in the $1 million The Gong (1600m).
The Villiers Stakes 2021 is set to run as Randwick Race 8 at 4:40pm (AEDT) on Saturday with full markets available by clicking here courtesy of Ladbrokes.com.au.
2021 Villiers Stakes Field & Barriers
|No||Last 10||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Probable Weight||Penalty||Hcp Rating|
|1||21x6411x63||BANDERSNATCH||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Joshua Parr||1||59kg||106|
|2||240x415x77||GEM SONG||Kris Lees||Jason Collett||14||59kg||106|
|3||7x4100x582||I AM SUPERMAN (IRE)||Peter & Paul Snowden||Tommy Berry||17||59kg||106|
|4||6100×44636||SO SI BON||Ben & JD Hayes||Hugh Bowman||19||58kg||104|
|5||80x2915x57||RANIER||James Cummings||Glyn Schofield||7||57kg||102|
|6||x1422x1271||ELLSBERG||Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou||Tim Clark||9||56kg||100|
|7||6x323179x8||ORDER AGAIN (NZ)||Chris Waller||Nash Rawiller||11||56kg||100|
|8||7642311×02||STOCKMAN (NZ)||Joseph Pride||Jay Ford||16||56kg||100|
|9||41441×0608||ATTORNEY (FR)||Matthew Smith||Tom Sherry (a)||6||55.5kg||99|
|10||2119×54300||RELOADED||Chris Waller||Ms Kathy O’Hara||21||55kg||98|
|11||100×667309||FUN FACT||Bjorn Baker||Ms Jenny Duggan (a)||3||54.5kg||97|
|12||x2127x3017||LIGHTNING JACK (NZ)||Annabel Neasham||18||54kg||90|
|13||51220×9273||YAMAZAKI||Matthew Dunn||Andrew Adkins||12||53kg||97|
|14||1283x27x58||CRIADERAS||James Cummings||Ms Rachel King||15||53kg||94|
|15||1154411×21||STEELY||Gerald Ryan & Sterling Alexiou||Kerrin McEvoy||4||53kg||94|
|16||2130×89105||EXOBOOM||Peter & Paul Snowden||Robbie Dolan||8||53kg||92|
|17||33441×0343||BRUTALITY||Joseph Pride||Regan Bayliss||13||53kg||89|
|18||2x1813x763||GROVE FERRY (IRE)||Gai Waterhouse & Adrian Bott||James Innes Jnr||5||53kg||89|
|19||16x41377x6||KIRWAN’S LANE (NZ)||John O’Shea||Brock Ryan||2||53kg||87|
|20||144509×727||WHEELHOUSE||Chris Waller||Ms Alysha Collett||20||53kg||86|
|21e||0x81423242||LEASE||Anthony Cummings||Tyler Schiller (a)||10||54kg||72|
Table Credit: Racing Australia.
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