Top jockey Michael Rodd expects smart filly Villa Verde to keep improving on her way to the richest two year old race in the world, the Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on April 6.
Rodd made a special trip to Bendigo on Wednesday to ride the Golden Slipper fancy in a jump out and was happy with the way the Not A Single Doubt filly felt.
“I think she’s improved, she feels a lot stronger,” Rodd said.
“There’s still improvement there and she looks like she’s on track.
“She comes to hand quickly. That’s something we’ve noticed over time. After each gallop she’s tightened up noticeably.”
Trainer Shaun Dwyer decided to miss the Group 1 $1m Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 23 in favour of a Golden Slipper preparation and sent Villa Verde straight to the paddock after winning over 1000m in the Listed $120,000 7News Plate at Flemington on November 6 at her second race start.
Villa Verde had shown Dwyer from day one that she was heading for the top and easily accounted for the Gai Waterhouse trained Overreach at Caulfield in October, with that filly subsequently being installed the Golden Slipper favourite after winning at Rosehill in February.
Rodd said that Villa Verde has grown and filled out while she was off the scene and still has more growing to do.
“She’s a bigger horse. She’s grown a little bit height wise but the biggest thing I’ve noticed is she’s thickened up so much. She’s a lot bigger over the bum and her girth’s a lot thicker,” Rodd said.
“It’s fantastic the progress that she’s shown and all that equals more power.”
Rodd has kept a close eye on the filly and apart from the latest hit out, the Group 1 winning jockey has made several trips to Bendigo to test her in a couple of gallops.
“I’ve been up here twice before, galloped her the Sydney way and she’s handled it easily.”
“Getting around the Sydney way won’t be a problem either.”
Waterhouse’s filly Overreach holds the top spot in the early Golden Slipper market at $4.40 with Villa Verde the second pick at $8.
Clarry Connors’ slick filly Assail is on the third line of betting at $15 and gets her chance to change the Slipper market when she runs at Warwick Farm on Saturday in the Group 3 $125,000 Les Johnson Memorial Sweet Embrace Stakes (1200m) at Warwick Farm.