Another spring bloomer as Vilana shows his class in The Hunter

David Murray
Dave Murray

Godolphin’s magic spring continued at Newcastle on Saturday, 12 November when Vilana won the $1 million The Hunter over 1,300m courtesy of a copybook ride from Nash Rawiller.

Third-up after an easy win in the Silver Eagle at Randwick and an unlucky eighth from barrier 20 in the $10 million Golden Eagle at Rosehill Gardens, Vilana took his record to six wins and one placing from 10 starts when he mowed down In The Congo. The winner’s stablemate, Gravina, finished a brave third.

Rawiller parked the four-year-old beautifully in fourth spot to the home turn and didn’t peel off the leaders’ heels until the 200m pole.

Vilana sprinted quickly to grab In The Congo, who had denied Godolphin stable star Anamoe off a similar run in last year’s $1 million Golden Rose at Rosehill.

Anamoe, Golden Mile, In Secret, Aft Cabin, Cascadian, Paulele, Alegron, Gravina, Larkspur Run, Ingratiating, Zapateo, Sandpaper, Barber and Zulfikar have all won feature races for head trainer James Cummings in the past few months.

“Another great weekend for us, the only difference between triumph and try is a little oomph,” a happy Cummings joked.

Stable spokesman Darren Beadman was at Newcastle and said Vilana deserved his victory after appreciating a slightly softer track surface.

“He got the job done today, it was quite painless in the run,” the former champion jockey said.

“When he won first-up in the Silver Eagle, he really showed his class that day.

“Today, with that run under his belt in the Golden Eagle, just the wide gate and the ground was probably a little bit firm for him.

“With Nash, you are always confident when it is going to be a tight finish, that Nash is going to get the best out of them.

“The trip to Brisbane (winter) did him the world of good and the team has placed him to perfection.

“It was wonderful to see the way he knuckled down and fought off a very tough competitor in In The Congo.”

Rawiller has a high opinion of Vilana and said the entire had excuses in the Golden Eagle.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence in the horse from what he showed me in previous rides,” Rawiller said.

“Unless you watch the stewards’ replay you wouldn’t know what he encountered in the Golden Eagle.

“Today, he just used his natural speed to get across into a lovely spot and I knew he’d relax once he got there.

“It was a matter of pushing the button, even though In The Congo is tough.

“I felt we were going to beat it by a length but it just kept coming with me, but he’s got a lot of class my bloke and he’s on the way up.”

On Cranbourne Cup Day in Victoria, speedy Godolphin two-year-old Remedies showed a glimpse of what could become a stellar career on the racetrack when she blitzed the opposition to win the Rhino The Wrecker Plate over 1,000m.

The daughter of four-time G1 winner Sepoy and former flying machine Virage de Fortune jumped brilliantly and took the lead at the 700m mark before travelling kindly for jockey Mark Zahra.

Zahra released the brakes at the top of the home straight and Remedies burst away to win by 3.5 lengths from Furosshi, with Neutralism a half-length further back in third place.

Remedies had been fancied in the G3 Ottawa Stakes at Flemington on VRC Oaks Day but was listed as an emergency and failed to gain a start.

Melbourne senior stable foreman Sean Keogh said Remedies had shown ability in trials before debuting in winning style.

“We were a smidgen disappointed we didn’t get a start in the Ottawa Stakes because we thought she’d be very competitive there,” Keogh said.

“We managed to keep her on ice for the week and coming here we managed to pick up some good prize money.

“It’s important to look after these good ones so it will be up to James and the team to assess how she’s come through the run.

“It looked like Mark Zahra throttled her down in the end so we’re delighted with the win.”

Zahra said the little more than an armchair ride on the filly, who would improve with the experience. 

“She’s a little bit green and quickened that fast she probably didn’t make that last corner so well,” said the Melbourne Cup-winning rider.

“But I felt when I shook her up around the bend it was game over.”