Villami has added a black-type feel to the midweek meeting at Warwick Farm with a gritty victory over a field that would not have been out of place in a stakes race.
Of the eight runners in Wednesday’s Vinery Handicap (1000m), four were either stakes winners or placegetters and they dominated the finish.
But it was dashing mare Villami ($2.25 fav) who stole the spotlight, bounding out of the stalls to make the running and digging deep when challenged by California Zimbol ($3.30) to deny her by a short neck.
Pandemic ($4.20), who was Listed placed behind the winner’s stablemate Standout last spring, ran on for third another two lengths away.
Co-trainer Gerald Ryan nominated the Group Three Begonia Belle Stakes (1100m) at Flemington on Derby day and The Nivison (1200m) at Randwick on October 24 as possible targets.
“She will either go to Randwick or the race at Flemington,” Ryan said.
“I’ve got a lot of time for her.
“Her best asset is her gate speed. She is very quick early and as long as she gets firm footing, she is hard to beat.”
Winning jockey Tim Clark said Villami showed her customary early speed but it was her will to win when Kerrin McEvoy laid down the gauntlet on California Zimbol that he found most admirable.
“She’s not really one to get into a fight because she has normally burnt them off and I thought when Kerrin challenged me, for her to dig in and show that fight was good to see from her,” Clark said.
Villami was narrowly beaten by Everest hopeful Libertini in the Furious Stakes last spring and broke through at black-type level when she won the Listed Fireball Quality in the autumn.
Everest contender Gytrash was put through his paces at Warwick Farm with an exhibition gallop under race jockey Jason Collett.
The star sprinter worked with Noble Boy, pleasing his trainer Gordon Richards who said the horse would have his final serious workout on Tuesday.
While several of his Everest rivals have had campaign hiccups, there have been no such issues for the South Australian raider.
“He’s probably the only one that’s had no problems. So far, so good,” Richards said.