Pride to nut out Villiers-Coolmore path with Pecans

PECANS, the only mare in the field, showed she is a legitimate Villiers Stakes contender when she proved too strong for her rivals in Listed $150,000 Ladies Day Cup (1400m) at Hawkesbury on Thursday.

The Joe Pride-trained Pecans enhanced her reputation as a first-up specialist and maintained her perfect Hawkesbury track record to claim her third stakes success. Pride has every reason to aim higher with Pecans who wore down Burning Passion in an exciting finish.

“She was really good today,’’ the trainer said. “I liked the way she finished her race off so strongly, it was good to see.

“We might look at the Festival Stakes and the Villiers Stakes with her now.’’

Pecans ($3.10 favourite), ridden by Jason Collett, finished too well for Burning Passion ($11) to win by a short neck with Fabrizio ($6.50) just over two lengths away third.

“I don’t want to give her too many starts this preparation because I’d like to give her a freshen up before autumn,’’ Pride said.

“She is still very lightly raced, when she came to me she had only had seven starts so, although she is a five-year-old now, she is racing very well.

“I’d like to think she could be a chance in the (Group 1) Coolmore Classic next autumn.’’

Pecans was due to return in The Nivison last month but was scratched at the barriers after she was kicked by another horse.

“She had a similar preparation last time when she was meant to race at Randwick but missed the run, then she had another trial and came out and won here first-up (Godolphin Crown at the Hawkesbury stand-alone meeting),’’ Pride said.

“She’s done it again today, we gave her a third trial after she was scratched a the barrier so there might be something in that.’’

Pride was obviously delighted with Pecans’ return but he was left searching for answers after New Tipperary’s sixth. New Tipperary was in line for a Perth campaign aimed at the Railway Stakes and Kingston Town Classic but Pride conceded he will need to reassess the trip.

Burning Passion ran bravely for trainer Mark Newnham with his narrow loss coming just 25 minutes before stablemate Greysful Glamour ran a close second in the Group 1 Victoria Oaks at Flemington.

Rosehill set to rock

THERE are no stakes races but Rosehill Gardens will host one of its biggest attendances of the spring carnival on Saturday.

The Australian Turf Club is expected a bumper crowd to Rosehill of about 12,000 for the annual Girls Day Out raceday, one of the club’s most successful promotions.

Race meetings like Saturday and The Everest last month show there is a real appetite for racing in Sydney during spring.

Vini conquers Plate

GAI Waterhouse and Adrian Bott prepared another two-year-old winner when Vinicunca won the Group 3 $150,000 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) at Flemington on Thursday.

Vinicunca, a $600,000 Easter Yearling Sale purchase, just edged out Art Collection in a thriller after leading most of the way.

Waterhouse and Bott have also won the Maribyrnong Trial Stakes with Unite And Conquer, and the Inglis Banner with Espaaniyah. Bott said Vincunca is “right up there” with the stable’s best juveniles this season and will be aimed toward the Blue Diamond and Golden Slipper.

Meanwhile, the Peter and Paul Snowden-trained Catch Me, the runaway of the Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes at Randwick on Epsom Day, has been heavily backed to win the Golden Slipper next year.

TAB Fixed Odds reported on Thursday they accepted a wager of $9,000 each way at $15/$4.50 on Catch Me in the Golden Sipper. Catch Me, her stablemate Anaheed, and the Gary Portelli-trained Time To Reign are co-favourites for the Golden Slipper with the Waterhouse-Bott trio of Melbourne spring carnival winners on the next line at $26.

Championship goals

CROSS Counter, the Melbourne Cup winner, and the rest of Godolphin’s all-conquering team that has dominated the spring carnival, leave for Dubai on Sunday.

But Charlie Appleby, trainer of Cross Counter, and Saeed Bin Suroor, who prepared Best Solution to win the Caulfield Cup and Benbatl to take out the Caulfield Stakes, are hoping to be back for Sydney’s The Championships at Royal Randwick in the autumn.

Appleby has already had success at The Championships with Polarisation winning the Sydney Cup last year.

Haskins’ Cup quinella

ONE of the sport’s most respected professionals, jockey manager Bryan Haskins had a day to remember on Cup Day. Haskins manages champion jockeys Kerrin McEvoy, who rode Cross Counter, and Hugh Bowman, rider of Cup runner-up Marmelo.

VRC Oaks on Waller’s hit list

CHAMPION trainer Chris Waller is never one to rest on his laurels and is always looking at ways to improve. “I’ve never had a runner in the (Victoria) Oaks,’’ Waller said at Flemington on Thursday. “So that is definitely an area where we can target and try to do better.’’

Waller has trained at least one winner on each day of the Flemington Carnival and is hoping to end Cup Week with another major from Shillelagh in the Group 1 $2 million Mackinnon Stakes on Saturday.

Sprint stars

REDZEL, the dual Everest champ, and The Kosciuszko winner Belflyer, are both racing on Saturday. Super sprinter Redzel is chasing another big-race success in the Group 1 $1 million VRC Sprint Classic (1200m) at Flemington, his first start since winning the $13 million The Everest at Randwick a month ago.

Belflyer hasn’t raced since taking out the $1.3 million The Kosciuszko on Everest day but trainer John Shelton has found an open sprint for his stable star at the Sunshine Coast.

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