Godolphin seek to break Villiers hoodoo

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Thu 10th December 2020

Godolphin has captured feature races around the globe but incredibly, the royal blue silks are yet to cross the line first in a Villiers Stakes.

In fact, the prestigious Randwick mile has proven somewhat of a bogey race for some of Sydney’s biggest stables.

Chris Waller’s only victory came in the stewards’ room when Honor In War was awarded the 2008 edition on protest against Takeover Target.

And the race had a different look that year, being held over 1400 metres as the industry got back on its feet in the wake of the equine influenza outbreak.

Godolphin has saddled up a handful of Villiers placegetters, most recently Interlocuter who finished third in 2017, but a victory in the flagship summer race eludes them.

Head trainer James Cummings gets a chance to amend that anomaly on Saturday when the stable starts three runners – Criaderus, Phaistos and the enigmatic Best Of Days.

Criaderus is the most fancied of the trio but Jason Collett, who relegated Interlocuter to the minor placings when successful on Queenslander Crack Me Up, is hoping he can be the one to deliver Godolphin a maiden Villiers success aboard Phaistos.

The gelding made late headway for fifth in the Festival Stakes last start, although he has a sticky barrier draw in 12.

“It would be good. His run was good last start off a good barrier,” Collett said.

“It’s obviously a trickier barrier this week, it may just mean he’s ridden a bit quieter. But he is definitely a chance in a pretty even race.”

Criaderus is coming off an unplaced run on a heavy track in the Golden Eagle but has been kept up to the mark with a recent barrier trial at Newcastle.

Kerrin McEvoy, who will also be shooting to break his Villiers duck, takes the mount.

Collett will ride for Warwick Farm stables in three of the four stakes races at Randwick, his other feature rides headed by Significance trained by his partner Clare Cunningham.

The Frankel entire broke through at Rosehill last Saturday and has done well during the week, although Collett hopes the predicted rain stays away.

If he doesn’t go around there is a benchmark race for him the following week.

“We will see what the weather does. They’re predicting a wee bit of rain and he needs a decent surface,” Collett said.

“It’s been a bit tricky trying to place him but it’s not a very strong field. The highest rated horse is an 89 so it’s an 88 benchmark race really, the same as next week.

“He’s a gross horse so he doesn’t need too much time between runs.”

Significance is a $7.50 chance for the Listed Christmas Cup, while Through The Cracks is clinging to Villiers favouritism at $5, just ahead of Criaderus at $5.50.

Phaistos is a $10 chance.