“If the track plays fair and there’s enough speed then look for him to be running on.”
Villiers Stakes, 1600m
The third of the big Randwick miles is always a showpiece event at this time of year and offers a free pass into next year’s Doncaster for the winner.
Ellsberg (4.40) (in below tweet) comes off a comprehensive performance in the Festival Stakes at Rosehill a fortnight ago, with Rachel King able to take up a forward position outside of Prime Candidate in the run and her charge responding well when asked for the extra effort to hold a length-plus margin on the line.
A measure of consistency and adaptable to all conditions, he had the better of Epsom winner Private Eye during the autumn and has drawn comfortably just inside the middle of the line, which should afford Tim Clark every opportunity to put him in a similar position again.
No big knock, but he does go up 3kgs and will be tested over a hard run mile having had the pattern of the day in his favour last start.
— SKY Racing (@SkyRacingAU) November 27, 2021
Indeed, the Ryan/Alexiou pairing provide the top two in betting and will also be represented by the progressive Steely (3.90), who tackles black-type company for the first time on the back of some excellent recent form.
He’ll enjoy a handy 7kg weight drop into this after winning at BM88 level on The Gong card, with his favourable record in heavy going a decent tick given the showers predicted in the build-up to raceday.
Bandersnatch (11.00) (in below tweet) is another horse who doesn’t mind some cut in the ground and he races well at headquarters having placed in five of his six appearances here.
He won the Civic Stakes third-up during the winter but felt he had his chance in the Festival and happy to work around at what will be his first crack at the mile.
"Bandersnatch goes from barrier to box."
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) June 26, 2021
Brutality (8.50) (in below tweet) backs up for the third consecutive Saturday with the bay having chased home the promising Katalin under 60.5kgs at Rosehill last weekend.
Plenty to like about the way he hit the line and all his wins have come on soft or heavy ground.
If the track plays fair and there’s enough speed then look for him to be running on and with the light weight he’s my tip to take this out.
— SKY Racing (@SkyRacingAU) December 4, 2021
Of the others, Criaderas (13.00) was an unlucky third in this race last year, charging home from the back as is his way and his run in The Gong was probably better than it looked.
The racing pattern always makes him a risk but he’s good enough to win a race of this stature.
Stockman (8.00) is forward in condition judging by the way he hit the line behind Ellsberg last start and he also gives Joe Pride a decent shot at taking out another feature at headquarters.