Rain-affected Villiers a boost for Moments
By Warwick Barr
SYDNEY, Dec 9 AAP – Steven O’Dea will embrace the prospect of rain more than most Villiers Stakes trainers, claiming Sydney’s weather forecast can only enhance the chances of gifted galloper Sir Moments.
Sir Moments is one of the favourites to win the famous Group Two race but the likelihood of a rain-affected track at Randwick on Saturday will almost certainly make him stand alone as the horse to beat.
Rain is predicted on Wednesday with heavier falls on Thursday, a forecast which would consign one of the feature meetings of the summer to be run on a track rated soft or worse.
Sir Moments has an unblemished record in the wet, including two wins at Listed level.
“He’s won two from two on the soft and one from one on the heavy so I won’t mind it at all if the track is wet,” O’Dea said.
Sir Moments will stretch out to the mile in the Villiers for the first time since ending his late autumn and winter campaign on a winning note in Brisbane.
But he gave every indication he is looking for the distance in running on late to finish fifth – less than two lengths from the winner – in the Festival Stakes at Rosehill.
“He’s done well in the week-and-a-half since and his work’s been very good,” O’Dea said. “I’m really looking forward to getting him to the big track at Randwick.”
Sir Moments has been given 55.5kg, 2.5kg over the limit but 3.5kg less than topweight Monton.
Monton will be trying to win his second Villiers, three years after beating Kontiki Park when the race was run at Warwick Farm.
The Ron Quinton-trained veteran heads Villiers weights from Mouro (58kg), Aomen (57.5kg) and Strawberry Boy (57kg).
Festival Stakes winner I’m Imposing has 56.5kg.
Trainer Tony McEvoy is preparing to send Mouro to Brisbane rather than risk the six-year-old on a track that won’t be to the horse’s liking.
McEvoy will be left with Pelicano, first-up for 12 months but at home in rain-affected going, as his Villiers horse.
The Villiers is one of three black-type races at Randwick with Howmuchdoyouloveme the 59kg topweight for the feature sprint – the Listed Razor Sharp Handicap.
Our Boy Malachi goes up 2.5kg to 57kg for his last-start Starlight Stakes win, his second victory in Sydney and his 15th from 17 starts.
The Chris Waller-trained Permit heads weights for the Listed Christmas Cup with 59kg.