2024 Queensland Racing Carnival homepage
  • Home
  • News
  • Vilana hoping for third time lucky in Stradbroke

Vilana hoping for third time lucky in Stradbroke

Wed 12 June 2024

By Andrew Smith

They were confident before, but the connections of Vilana are even more convinced a favourable barrier will lead to the Godolphin gun claiming his first Stradbroke Handicap on Saturday.

The five-year-old picked up gate 14 in last night’s barrier draw held at King George Square in Brisbane, firming into outright favouritism at $5 as of Wednesday morning.

The Tony Gollan-trained Antino had been the frontrunner in the markets before last night’s draw, but is now out to $8 after drawing barrier 20, while Doomben 10,000 winner Bella Nipotina will jump from barrier 21.

Vilana will carry 53kg into the Group 1 feature with Tim Clark on board.

Speaking from trackwork on Tuesday morning at Eagle Farm, trainer James Cummings said last weekend’s dominant Moreton Cup win had set the sprinter up nicely for a tilt at the $3 million race.

“He was dynamic in that race and he really let go, it was a resounding victory there,” Cummings said.

“He’s perfectly fit, he dropped back in distance to win that Moreton Cup and he steps back up to the seven furlongs in the Stradbroke in good shape.

“He pulled up amazing…he was licking his lips coming off the track this morning looking good.

“We’re satisfied to accept with a horse on the backup and we’d like to give the horse another opportunity to see if he can go a little closer.”

Vilana had been raced as a colt the previous two Stradbroke Handicaps but will return as a gelding for a third shot at the time-honoured event.

He finished 10th in last year’s edition behind Think About It, while in 2022 he had to settle for 8th behind Alligator Blood.

Cummings believed the lead in to the 2024 race would give Vilana his best opportunity yet to break his Stradbroke duck.

“It seems to us like it’s a pretty good timing for Vilana - it’s an opportune year for him to have another go and in the days leading up to it, it looks like he’s got a nice weight and the form from his win it looks like he’s good enough to be competitive this year,” Cummings said.

“I don’t really mind the back up from that particular race in the setup we’ve given the horse and it might just give him his best chance yet.

“In previous years, I’ve had the horse a bit fresher coming out of races a few weeks beforehand, but I think this year it’s the right thing to do to make a change with Vilana and try to stimulate that big Group 1 performance out of him.

“For some time we’ve been faithful that he would be able to deliver in one of these big handicaps at Group 1 level, and this might be his best chance yet.”

With no horse having pulled off a Moreton Cup-Stradbroke Handicap double, there is an extra bit of history on the line for Vilana.

Cummings said it was not a surprise the money was heading the way of the colt given last Saturday’s performance in the Group 2 event.

“He was unrecognised in the days before the Moreton Cup getting close to the Stradbroke and perhaps that’s a consequence of racing on a very heavy track where he went down to Mazu first up, then running in the BRC Sprint where his run had a lot of hidden merit,” Cummings said.

“Perhaps now that it’s all out there in the market and the punters can see how well he’s going and it is the case that he’s quite high up in the market, but that’s also a reflection of the depth of the race this year.

“That’s why I feel like it's a good opportunity this year for him to have his best chance at winning it.

“I say that with all due respect to the opposition because it’s going to take some winning, with the three-year-olds with the light weights and the solid weight-for-age mares that are accepting in the race.

“So it’s no secret that it’s going to be a high-pressure event that any winner is going to need to be at the top of their game.”

The Godolphin stable will also be chasing Group 1 glory with Broadsiding in the JJ Atkins Plate.

Champion hoop James McDonald will saddle up on the two-year-old who comes into the race off the back of a breathtaking victory in the Group 2 Sires Produce Stakes.

Broadsiding is battle-hardened after also campaigning strongly in the southern states throughout the autumn, with two wins at Randwick (including the Group 1 Champagne Stakes) following a place in the Group 3 Baillieu at Rosehill.

“He’s proven to me he’s the type of horse now that he thrives on the travel, thrives on the pressure, he loves campaigning, he’s really enjoyed his time in training and he’s matured an incredible amount since he began his racing prep this time through,” Cummings said.

“I think that’s going to bode really well for the horse next season - it just gives him an opportunity to learn a little bit more about what he’s doing.

“For two-year-olds to be stretched in their stamina, it doesn’t happen a lot in our racing season and Broadsiding needed to really be able to capitalise on that later in the two-year-old year so that’s what he’s doing so nicely.

“He’s undefeated in two runs over a mile, he showed no qualms with being dropped back in distance to win the Sires and overcome difficulties so he’s got a great nous for racing and he’s well and truly in the zone so for us it’s an exciting thing to be bringing a colt in good form to the JJ Atkins.”

The stable will also have Amur and Razors line up in the Group 3 Gunsynd Classic.

Pereille will also look to back up from a huge last start win in a Benchmark 85 Handicap on the Sunshine Coast in May, when he starts in the Hinkler Handicap.

“He was excellent at the Sunshine Coast, he demolished the field there, racing his way through the grades in a handicap and it was a very heavy 10 on the day,” Cummings said.

“So he'll find different conditions on the weekend but he’ll still be able to let down on this track and I’d be confident he can be a winning chance in that Hinkler Handicap.”