Shaun Dwyer knows a good filly when he sees one.
In 2004, the Bendigo trainer prepared flying three-year-old filly Regimental Gal to win the Group One Lightning Stakes-Australia Stakes double.
It is for this reason that when Dwyer says his unbeaten two-year-old Villa Verde is potentially a better horse than the former star he affectionately refers to as “Reggie” that you stand up and take notice.
“I’ve been reluctant to say this publicly, but I think this (Villa Verde) is a better filly than Reggie (Regimental Gal),” Dwyer said.
“I’m trying not to dissect her as a racehorse, but to run 31.5 from the 800 to the 200 down the straight as easily as she did makes me think she’s pretty special.
“That’s what Regimental Gal could do, but she was hammering along, whereas this filly has a lot more composure and a better racing style.
“I shouldn’t even be comparing the two of them and at this stage the difference between them is $1.4 million.”
Unbeaten in two starts, Villa Verde debuted with a win in the Listed Debutants Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield in October, before winning the Listed 7 News Plate (1000m) at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day in November.
Such is Dwyer’s opinion of the filly; he doesn’t want to risk bottoming her out by running in the Blue Diamond Stakes as well as the Golden Slipper.
“She won’t be going to the Blue Diamond she’ll resume in the Reisling (Group Two 1200m, March 23 at Rosehill) and will then go straight into the Golden Slipper two weeks later,” he said.
A striking grey by Not A Single Doubt, Dwyer said he plans to keep Villa Verde at his Bendigo training base until around a week before the Reisling.
“I spoke with the club here, they’re going to accommodate me with a couple of 800 and 1000m jump-outs the reverse way, I think the longer I can keep her here the better I can manage her,” he said.
“A lot of horses go into the Golden Slipper with a slight niggle and I’m trying to reduce the chance of the possibility of shin soreness or joint pain or something like that.”
Because he knows how few and far between the really good horses can be as a small trainer, Dwyer admits he is doing everything in his power to make sure Villa Verde will be around for a few seasons for her owners to enjoy.
“She is very sound but I want to look after her and keep her that way,” he said.