Taxmeifyoucan Chasing Villiers Victory

Image courtesy of Driver
Taxmeifyoucan was a close second in the Goulburn Cup. Image courtesy of Driver

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An even field will contest Sydney’s biggest feature race of the summer, Saturday’s Group 2 Villiers Stakes. The time-honoured event run over a mile (1600m) has been transferred from the Randwick course proper to the Kensington track. That has resulted in the field being capped at 14 and a drop back in distance to 1550m. In a precautionary measure, the ATC opted not to hold the meeting at Randwick because the course proper wasn’t 100% after the recent renovation.

Alma’s Fury was beaten by a nose by surprise packet All Legal in last year’s Villiers, but after going on to win the Listed Bernborough Handicap at Toowoomba at the end of 2012 and the Group 2 Apollo Stakes at Warwick Farm in February, Paul Murray’s galloper hasn’t been able to find the same form this season.

The Chris Waller-trained Coup Ay Tee and Gai Waterhouse’s Western Symbol are the top weights with 59kg. Coup Aye Tee is back from an unsuccessful hit-and-run mission in New Zealand, while Western Symbol is first-up after damaging a tendon in the 2012 Spring Carnival.

Light weight Absalon , trained by Sam Kavanagh, is looking to back up his last-start runaway Recognition Stakes victory on a heavy track at Doomben. Another hopeful on the minimum is the Gregory Hickman runner Taxmeifyoucan , which was nosed out in a controversial photo-finish in the Goulburn Cup over 1600m.

Other leading hopes include consistent French-bred five-year-old Sysmo from the Tony McEvoy yard, Waller’s second-stringer Said Com , and Peter Snowden’s talented four-year-old Limes . Queenslander Listen Son will be ridden by Kathy O’Hara, who returns to the saddle after suffering a nasty head gash in a race fall a couple of weeks ago.

Listen Son should go forward after drawing gate three while Absalon has some work to do to get near the front from barrier 12, although there isn’t a great deal of speed in the race. Coup Ay Tee has drawn well in 5 with Western Symbol out wide in 13.

The Villiers winner not only earns connection $175,000 in prizemoney, but a guaranteed spot in Randwick’s most famous mile, the $3m Doncaster Handicap.

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