A talented field of eighteen milers has been confirmed for Saturday’s Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Randwick Racecourse; highlighted by the inclusion of several horses seeking ballot-free entry into the 2017 Doncaster Mile.
Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott have been thrilled with the results posted by Fabrizio in 2016 and have confirmed the talented five-year-old in the Villiers Stakes field.
Securing seven race wins and a minor through only eleven competitive appearances so far, the High Chaparral gelding resumed in August for a classy win in the McGrath Estate Agents BM72 (1200m) before placing a credible fourth amongst talented company in the Rosehill Bowling Club BM78 (1400m).
Returning to winning form in the #TheRaces BM84 (1600m), a strategy to open a big lead in the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) did not pay off when the horse faded in the final straight to finish tenth, but he has since atoned with comfortable wins in each of the Bartier Perry BM93 (1600m) and Listed James Boag’s Symphony Stakes (1800m) most recently.
In-form hoop Tim Clark will take the ride on Fabrizio, who may require some early luck to find a forward position from barrier 11.
Dibayani produced a number of strong efforts over a mile in spring but will have to bring his best to the track on Saturday, after being allocated a topweight of 58kgs in the Villiers Stakes field.
Resuming for second in the Group 3 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) on August 6th, the Shamardal gelding placed third in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) on September 3rd and was unlucky not to break through for a maiden win at the highest level when bobbed on the line by Hauraki in the Epsom Handicap.
Last seen running ninth in the Group 2 Salinger Stakes (1200m) on Derby Day, Dibayani will relish the conditions of the Villiers Stakes and should receive a good run in transit from barrier 8, with Damien Oliver in the saddle.
Godolphin are offered two chances of success in the feature race after trainer John O’Shea confirmed both Malice and Duca Valentinois in the 2016 Villiers Stakes field.
Malice has found strong form through three starts this time and is undoubtedly Godolphin’s best chance of winning the Villiers Stakes.
Resuming for third in the Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m), Malice finished a credible fifth amongst strong company in the Topaz Handicap (1900m) at Rosehill before returning to winning form in the Listed ATC Cup (2000m) on December 3rd.
There is something of a question mark over whether or not the Teofilo gelding will handle a step back in distance into the Villiers Stakes field, but he will be given every chance of success from barrier 5.
Duca Valentinois will make his first black type appearance when he takes his place in the Villiers Stakes field, but the four-year-old has more than earned his shot via several consistent performances this time in.