Leading Sydney jockey James McDonald has been booked to ride General Groove in the 2014 Villiers Stakes at Royal Randwick this weekend.
General Groove has not had a race start outside of Victoria since he finished 11th behind Eximius in the 2013 edition of the Listed Sunshine Coast Guineas (1600m), but co-trainer Troy Corstens has confirmed that the son of General Nediym would be sent to Sydney for the Group 2 event that offers the winner ballot-exempt entry into the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Corstens told TVN that he was most impressed with the performance of General Groove when he finished second behind talented imported Pornichet in the Group 3 Sandown Stakes (1500m) at Sandown on November 15 and he believes that the Villiers Stakes is an excellent option for the five-year-old especially with McDonald in the saddle.
“It’s a really good option for this horse as Jonathan Munz (the owner) owns the mare, so any kind of black type for the family is important to him and the value of the mare,” Corstens said.
“He’s done really well since, it’s a good break between runs and the race seems ideal for him.
“We’ve been able to book James McDonald for the horse which is another bonus for him.”
General Groove started his 2014 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a second place finish in the Giddy Up Geelong Handicap (1100m) on August 26 and he had no luck in the XFlam Handicap (1300m) at Sandown on September 27 before he returned to winning form in the Pura Milk Handicap (1300m) at Bendigo on October 18.
The five-year-old recorded the biggest win of his racing career to date when he scored an upset win in the Lavazza Short Black Handicap (1400m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day before his impressive effort in the Sandown Stakes.
McDonald will be riding General Groove for the first time and is chasing his first win in the Villiers Stakes after finishing eighth on Sysmo in 2013 and 11th on Triple Elegance in 2012.
Nominations for the 2014 Villiers Stakes were extended until 11am this morning due to only 17 horses being included in the initial entries, but there is still set to be plenty of quality in the race; with the likes of Festival Stakes winner I’m Imposing, talented Queensland galloper Rudy, Queensland Guineas winner Sir Moments, John Singleton-owned Strawberry Boy, consistent mare Estonian Princess, veteran gelding Monton and talented import Mouro all set to contest the $175,000 event.