The Chris Waller trained Vilanova finally lived up to his early potential and has booked himself a spot in the Australian Derby with a late storming win in the Group 2 $220,000 BMW Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield today.
Vilanova ($10) came from well back in the field on the home turn to score a comfortable one and half lengths win over Alpha Beat ($6.50) who also put in a strong finish.
“You would hope to see him something like the Derby, but Chris will just keep picking the races. A bit of confidence will help him,” Melbourne foreman for the Waller stable Justine Hales said.
The Commands three year old showed plenty of promise last winter and in the Spring but has taken a long time to realise his potential.
Hales said that the addition of pacifiers to Vilanova’s gear has turned the gelding’s form around.
“He has always shown a lot of talent and he was running well in Queensland last winter behind good horses but started pulling hard and started doing a bit wrong,” Hales said.
“Chris put the pacifiers on and wanted to drop him back. Last run he dropped back little bit too far and today he just relaxed beautifully.”
Waller now has plenty of time and options to get Vilanova ready for the Group 1 $2m BMW Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on April 12.
Newitt was having his first ride on the Vilanova and rode a very patient race before letting the three year old join in at the 250m before taking the control of the race.
“He was probably the best horses in the race, just been out of form a little bit, he gets a bit keen in his races. Justine said before the race just switch him off, and if he puts in will be hard to beat. He switched off really good,” Newitt said.