A full field of fourteen will line up in the Group 2 $175,000 Villiers Stakes (1550m) on Saturday on the Kensington track after the Summer feature race was transferred from the Randwick course proper.
Saturday’s Randwick meeting was shifted to the Kensington track because restoration work on the course proper was incomplete and some trainers were concerned that the reduction in the limit of runners from eighteen to fourteen would course some horses to miss a start but with only fourteen acceptors, no emergencies were required.
Leading trainer Chris Waller will saddle up two runners, equal top weight Coup Ay Tee with Jason Collett to ride and will jump from gate five and Said Com with Hugh Bowman from gate two.
Sam Kavanagh has accepted with last start Doomben winner Absalon in the Villiers Stakes as well as in the Listed $80,000 Pages Event Equipment Brisbane Handicap (1600m) at Doomben and will make a decision on which venue he tackles after studying the fields.
Absalon in the winner of his last two starts, winning over 1400m at Randwick on November 9 before racing on the pace to take out the Listed $80,000 Tattersall’s Recognition Stakes (1600m) at Doomben on November 30 on a heavy track.
“He has really come on this prep; his first-up run he ran well behind some decent horses and second-up he ran well with a big weight,” Kavanagh said.
“I was a bit surprised because he hasn’t handled wet tracks before but he was on the speed and bowled along.
“He has had a few backs problems in the past but he is getting better out of the gates and getting into his rhythm and sitting on the pace now that we have got him over further and that seems to suit him.
“There doesn’t look to be a heap of speed so I would like to see him roll across and sit in the first three.”
The Mossman five year old has drawn off the track in the Villiers Stakes at twelve while he has drawn more favourably in the Brisbane Handicap at seven in a field of twelve.
The High Chaparral seven year old was sent to the paddock to recover from a tendon injury after finishing third to Crafty Irna in the Listed $100,000 City Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m) at Randwick on October 20, 2012.
Waterhouse has given Western Symbol two Randwick barrier trials to prepare him to tackle the 1550m first up.
And Kathy O’Hara will partner Queensland galloper Listen Son on her return from injury with the Tony Gollan trained seven year old likely to take up a prominent position from gate three.