Leading Group 1 trainer Chris Waller admits that the inconsistent Vilanova needs plenty of luck to figure in the finish of the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
Vilanova has been dubbed ‘hot and cold’ after some inconsistent performances over the last twelve months but produced a top class effort last start at Doomben when he came from near last on the home turn and circled the field to score a runaway three and a half lengths win over Pinstripe Lane in the Group 3 $150,000 Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) two weeks ago.
Nash Rawiller settled Vilanova in his usual position near the tail of field from a wide barrier in the Grand Prix Stakes and will take up the same tactics in the Queensland Derby after drawing another wide gate.
Waller, who is looking for back to back Queensland Derby wins after collecting last year’s trophy with Hawkspur, can see Vilanova repeating his Doomben performance only if he gets everything to go his way during the race.
“In my eyes when he gets the race run to suit he is a consistent horse,” Waller told the Sportsman.
“It just comes down to luck in running with him.”
“Because of his racing style he needs luck to go his way and he has had some bad draws and things like that.”
Vilanova showed every indication last winter as a two year old that he had the potential to be among the top three year old’s this season after being runner up in the Group 2 $175,000 Bollinger Champagne Classic (1200m) and the Group 2 $250,000 Al Basti Equiworld BRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1350) before finishing fourth in the J.J. Atkins.
But after a fruitless Spring and Summer, the Commands gelding finally broke through with a last to first win in the Group 2 $220,000 BMW Caulfield Autumn Classic (1800m) at Caulfield during the Melbourne Autumn Carnival this year.
Waller kept Vilanova racing with three more runs in Melbourne and Sydney before heading to Brisbane where he showed some glimpses that another win wasn’t far away with an eye catching fourth to Queensland Derby rival Amexed in the Group 3 $125,000 Mittys Rough Habit Plate (2000m) at Doomben on May 10.
Following plenty of support for the Victorian colt Pinstripe Lane, the new $4.80 favourite, Vilanova has drifted out to $5 for the Queensland Derby which is shaping up as a re-run of the Grand Prix Stakes.
The John Sargent trained Elusive Runner, also at $5, is the new boy on the block ahead of Grand Prix Stakes runners Telepathic and Rudy at $12 and Amexed at $17.
Sandwiched in amongst those three year olds in the Ladbrokes.com.au market order is the Kiwi filly Rock Diva ($9) who is backing up after finishing fourth to Tinto in the Group 1 $400,000 Treasury Casino & Hotel Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm last week.