Absalon Could Return To Group Level In Villiers Stakes

Trainer Sam Kavanagh has revealed that progressive gelding Absalon could return to Group level in the Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on December 14.

Absalon stamped himself as a potential Group level winner with his impressive victory in the Recognition Stakes at Doomben on Saturday.

Absalon stamped himself as a potential Group level winner with his impressive victory in the Recognition Stakes at Doomben on Saturday. Photo by: Daniel Costello

Absalon started his campaign with a promising fifth behind That’s A Good Idea (1200m) in the Bob Ingham Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens on October 26 and scored a narrow victory in the Coolmore Australia Handicap (1400m) at Royal Randwick a fortnight later.

Kavanagh brought Absalon gelding to Brisbane for the Listed Recognition Stakes (1600m) at Doomben on November 30 and handled the heavy track in impressive fashion to record a strong win over Fillydelphia and Elmantosh.

The rising trainer told Sky Racing HQ that he is yet to decide where the five-year-old will have his next start but said a step-up in class to contest the Villiers Stakes was one possibility for the tough gelding.

Absalon has not raced at Group level since he finished sixth behind Sepoy in the Group 2 Danehill Stakes (1200m) and eighth behind Helmet in the Group 3 Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m) but Kavanagh believes that the Gerry Harvey-owned galloper could be suited by the predicted tempo in the Villiers Stakes.

“There are a few options with him,” Kavanagh said.

“There is another Stakes race next weekend up in Brisbane but I am going to nominate him for the Villiers Stakes.

“I just thought that the Festival Stakes was a very hot race and obviously Terravista and White Sage are very promising horses.

“They have both gone to the paddock and they didn’t look like they went that hard in front the other day and our bloke is an on-pace rolling type of horse and he might get the right run in the Villiers.

“He is a strong on-pace miler, he can certainly handle a good on-pace tempo and he will be there at the end.

“What we will do is accept for both the Villiers Stakes and the Queensland Handicap and see where he is drawn best, have a look at the races and make our decision next Wednesday.

“If he can draw a gate in the Villiers we would be tempted to have a go.”

Kavanagh has now had four wins at Listed level, after taking out the Balaklava Cup, Matrice Stakes and Tokyo City Cup with Bagman, but is still chasing his first win in a Group event.

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Thomas Hackett

Thomas is a passionate and opinionated racing journalist and punter who has been obsessed with horse racing since he backed Saintly to win the 1996 Melbourne Cup. An international racing enthusiast, he has his finger on the pulse of racing news not just from Australia but all around the world.

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