TRAINER’S happy, jockey’s elated, horse is healthy – next stop Sydney.
Bendigo filly Villa Verde took another step towards next month’s Group One Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) when she galloped strongly in a jump-out at Bendigo yesterday.
The Shaun Dwyer-trained two-year-old wasn’t asked to do too much by jockey Michael Rodd, but she finished off the 1000m hitout in a fashion that convinced the trainer and jockey she’s ready to head north next week.
Villa Verde will run in the Reisling Stakes at Rosehill on March 22 before heading to the Slipper on April 6.
“We’re a bit closer fitness wise than what I thought we’d be going into the Reisling,’’ Dwyer said.
“If she comes through this gallop OK, we’ll head to Sydney next Wednesday.”
Rodd settled Villa Verde midfield off a hot tempo in the jump-out.
The leading hoop said the filly displayed the same turn of foot she had in winning her first two starts in Melbourne last spring.
“It’s the only trial she’ll have before going to Sydney and it was fantastic,’’ Rodd said.
“The speed was on, which was nice, and I was able to sit back.
“She’s got that electrifying turn of foot, but I didn’t want to knock her around too much because she probably wasn’t quite ready for a real hard hit-out. It was real nice.”
Rodd, who is yet to win a Golden Slipper, wouldn’t swap Villa Verde for any other two-year-old he’s ridden this season. “She fits the perfect mould for a genuine two-year-old,’’ he said.
“She’s professional, she gets out of the barriers, she can race on-pace or she can come back a little bit. She’s got the turn of foot that you need, especially to win big races.”
he calibre of Villa Verde made the early morning starts and long days worthwhile.
“These sort of horses – this is the dream,’’ he said.
“The Melbourne Cup or the Cox Plate or the Golden Slipper, everyone who buys a horse thinks about it.
“It’s great for the two guys who own her because they’ve been two of my longest-serving owners.
“They’ve been terrific for the stable.
“It’s a bit like the Bendigo Spirit playing in the grand final. Once they were in it (grand final), it was easier for them to get out there and get up and get going.
“Getting everything to go right to the last moment is everything.
“It’s not over yet – we’ve still got three-and-a-half weeks to go.”
While Bendigo has produced its fair share of city winners in recent years, Group One class horses have been few and far between. Dwyer, who tasted Group One success as a trainer when he was based in Queensland, is hopeful Villa Verde can break Bendigo’s group One drought and promote the racing industry in central Victoria.
“Four years I’ve been here and I didn’t think it would take that long to get entrenched in Bendigo,’’ he said.
“The past two years (my wife)Geri and I have really settled in and we’ve met some wonderful people.
“Any support we can get from horses like this or Anudjawun is just great.
“I’d just like to see the industry grow in Bendigo a bit more and these sort of horses can help that.”
Anudjawun will resume for Dwyer in a 1300m race at Saturday’s Golden Mile Raceday at the Bendigo Jockey Club.