Villa Verde Up To The Challenge Stakes Standard

By: Thomas Hackett
March 14th, 2014

Trainer Anthony Cummings is confident that Villa Verde can prove that she can be competitive in open sprint races when she contests the 2014 Challenge Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Villa Verde is chasing her first race win since she took out the 7News Plate on Melbourne Cup Day in 2012.

Villa Verde is chasing her first race win since she took out the 7News Plate on Melbourne Cup Day in 2012. Photo by: Race Horse Photos Australia

Villa Verde made her open racing debut in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington during the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival and had no luck in running; fading in the final stages of the race after being tightened for room and becoming unbalanced.

Cummings told TVN that he believes Villa Verde is capable of matching it with some of the best sprinters in Australia in the Challenge Stakes this weekend and has been happy with her work in the lead-up to the Group 2 event.

“A three-year-old filly taking on the older horses is always a bit of a challenge, but she is very sharp,” Cummings said.

“She has certainly showed that here in her trackwork since she arrived in Melbourne.

“I am very impressed with the work she has shown here.

“She has shown before that she is up to this standard and I think that she will prove that again on Saturday.”

Villa Verde was previously prepared by Bendigo-based trainer Shaun Dwyer, but he suggested to connections that the three-year-old be transferred to a bigger stable, which would be better equipped to treat her well-publicized breathing problems.

Cummings was quick to pay credit to the work that Dwyer has done with Villa Verde and is confident that he has the issues that have plagued the talented filly’s racing career well under control.

“It is always difficult: Shaun has been very generous in his information and letting me know what she is like and what the different issues have been,” Cummings said.

“We have looked at all those things and addressed them all the way.

“Right now she presents as very healthy and well.

“Hopefully she can get back to those brilliant wins that she showed in her first couple of starts in Melbourne.”

Villa Verde started her racing career with two impressive wins in the Listed Debutant Stakes (1000m) and Listed 7News Plate (1000m) during the 2012 Spring Racing Carnival, but has been unable to record a race win in seven subsequent starts.

Buffering ($2.90) remains a narrow favourite in 2014 Challenge Stakes betting markets from Snitzerland ($3.10), while Villa Verde is currently available at Challenge Stakes odds of $15.

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