25/11/2020 Through The Cracks set for Villiers test
Angela Davies has an eye on the Villiers Stakes for Through The Cracks but her stable star will need to perform well when he lines up in the Festival Stakes at Rosehill.
The ultra-consistent Through The Cracks is among 20 horses nominated for the $160,000 Group Three feature over 1500m on Saturday.
Gosford trainer Davies, known for her patience and lethal strike rate, acknowledges the Festival Stakes represents the six-year-old's toughest test but the horse is flying and she's keen to step him up in distance.
The 2020 Provincial Championship winner gained some crucial ratings points on the strength of his customary late-driving victory in a benchmark event over 1300m at Newcastle's stand-alone meeting two weeks ago.
"It was an important win at Newcastle," Davies said.
"I felt under a bit of pressure as he needed to measure up that day and I was thrilled that he did.
"He ran good time and he continues to take that upward step."
Davies suggested the Group Two Villiers Stakes could be a possible target for Through The Cracks, whose prize money ticked over $500,000 following his Newcastle win.
"If he runs a nice race on Saturday then he'd have to be a lightweight chance for the Villiers," Davies said.
"We hope he can maintain his sprint now that he is getting over a bit more ground.
"But he's nice and strong, maintaining his weight and recovering well from his races.
"He's definitely gone to another level."
The Festival Stakes heads a program which also includes the Listed Starlight Stakes (1100m) and the Listed ATC Cup (2000m).
The Starlight Stakes sees the return of Godolphin's well travelled six-year-old Viridine, who was a dual Melbourne stakes winner in the winter.
Viridine has been allotted 61kg for the Starlight Stakes but the $1 million prize money earner looks well tuned for a big run fresh following two recent trials.
Viridine's likely opposition will come from stablemate Varda, who won four straight on heavy tracks over the winter before finishing fourth behind Ancestry at Flemington earlier this month.
Recent stakes performers Tactical Advantage, Eleven Eleven and Snitz are also among the nominations.
The $140,000 ATC Cup (2000m) has attracted 17 entries, including the Matthew Smith-trained veteran Grey Lion who returned to form winning a 2000m Listed race in Brisbane last month.
Grey Lion heads the weights on 59kg with other noted entries being Costello, Rocha Clock and Savacool.