After a near two-month break to allow for renovations to the course proper, racing returns to Randwick on Saturday for the annual Group 2 Villiers Stakes (Race 7) over 1600m.
Fabrizio stamped his class all over the year’s most highly publicised raceday when demolishing a capable field in the Melbourne Cup Day Plate over 1800m and on the strength of that showing is expected to take plenty of beating in the feature event.
The training combination of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott unveiled a likely contender for the two-year-old Magic Millions in impressive midweek winner Debonairly.
The pair are said to be extremely confident in Fabrizio’s chances and the early weight of money also trends in his favour.
In at Unibet headquarters, where our traders are preparing themselves for a voluminous period of racing heading into Christmas, we’re not ready to concede the race to the favourite just yet and will be looking to take him on come Saturday.
With the winner gaining automatic entry into the Doncaster, Waterhouse has earmarked this horse as a probable type for a Group 1 Randwick mile win given his toughness and resilience.
Although his last crack ended in disappointment following a curious Epsom ride by Johan Victoire.
Powering through the early sectionals, the Frenchman set up an eight length lead nearing the turn but Fabrizio was a sitting duck and had nothing left in the tank over the final furlong, knocking up to finish a well-beaten 10th.
Despite an awkward draw out in 11, local hoop Tim Clark should be able to control the tempo with a bit more assuredness but at the prices we feel he’s a good risk and are encouraging the punters to come after us and fund their festive shopping.
Second pick Hazzabeel has thrived since heading east to join the Ciaron Maher brigade and warmed up for this with a tidy second-place finish in the traditional lead-in, the Festival Stakes.
Having foregone a crack at the Kingston Town Classic back on familiar turf in Perth, Maher should have Hazzabeel ready to go but he might be a horse that goes best on top of the ground.
The forecast showers set to hit Sydney in the back end of the week might not work to his advantage and at the prices we’re also happy to oppose him.
Instead, our Sydney form analysts were expecting the main challenge to come from the lightly-weighted High Midnight, who showed great tenacity to fend off Reincarnate over 1400m at Rosehill last weekend and has drawn to race on the speed once again.
With James Innes Jr set to take the ride on High Midnight, Glyn Schofield will instead partner 2014 winner Rudy, who has been given a similar preparation by the Gold Coast-based Helen Page.
His run in the Recognition Stakes wasn’t too bad but he’d need to find a couple of lengths off that and despite having respect for the horse’s achievements, it’s hard to make a case for him.
We were also awaiting any market support for the Lee/Anthony Freedman import Sarrasin, who will be making his first Australian start after a spell of nearly 12 months in the country.
Despite the perception he’ll come into his own over more ground, we’re not taking any real chances with him at this stage with inclement weather also likely to be in his favour.
Of the others, Pajaro’s run in the Festival was credible and he’s a horse who has performed well third-up in the past while Duca Valentinois drops 8kgs off his last run and is worthy of consideration for the wider exotics with the in-form Brenton Avdulla in the saddle.
1. High Midnight
3. Duca Valentinois