Vilana brings the heat in the G3 Hall Mark Stakes
Vilana returned from a spell in sizzling form at Royal Randwick on Saturday, 15 April to confirm Godolphin Australia head trainer James Cummings’ plans to aim the four-year-old at three major sprints over the Queensland Winter Carnival.
Despite travelling wide and back in the field, jockey Nash Rawiller brought the entire forward with a perfectly timed run to beat Waihaha Falls by a widening 1.25 lengths in the G3 Hall Mark Stakes over 1,200m.
Key Largo finished in third place, another long-neck away, as the winner recorded a quick 1 minute 11.87 seconds on the Heavy 8 track surface.
Cummings deliberately chose the G3 Hall Mark for Vilana’s return and he showed his class to improve his record to seven wins and one placing from 12 starts for prize money of $1,725,300.
“He’s a pretty impressive horse, he has a lot of charisma about him,” Cummings said after the race.
“It would be great if we could target a G1 and pull it off.
“The Hall Mark Stakes has been a really good way for our fresh horses to come along and start a Brisbane campaign, and he’s well and truly achieved that.
Vilana burst onto the scene 12 months ago by winning the South Pacific Classic (Listed) at Randwick before adding the G3 Fred Best Classic in Brisbane.
He returned in the spring to win the $1 million Silver Eagle at Randwick and the $1 million The Hunter at Newcastle before venturing to Perth where his campaign was hampered by a slight leg injury.
The G1 Doomben 10,000 is scheduled for 13 May, with the G1 Kingsford-Smith Cup two weeks later.
The Stradbroke Handicap (1,400m) is then the jewel in the G1 crown on 10 June.
“It’s a month till the Doomben 10,000 and six weeks to the Kingsford-Smith Cup, both good races for this horse,” Cummings said.
“He won the Fred Best Classic 12 months ago and he already has a high-enough handicap (Stradbroke).
“So that Kingsford-Smith Cup is perfect for the horse, we’ve just got to make sure we have him cherry ripe on that day.”
Godolphin finished the day well when Tamerlane led all the way to easily win the $150,000 Petaluma Handicap (1,400m), the improving five-year-old’s fourth win from his past five starts.