By Brad Gray
At Royal Randwick
Crack Me Up foiled a brave bid from Cabeza De Vaca to pinch a thrilling edition of the $250,000 G2 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) and book himself a spot in the Doncaster Mile over The Championships.
Cabeza De Vaca and Josh Parr at one stage opened up what appeared to be a 12 length margin but the wobbles set in 200m from home which saw Crack Me Up and Jason Collett steal victory.
It was a thrilling finish to the Villiers Stakes
Punters’ Intel data reveals that Cabeza De Vaca ran his last 200m in a pedestrian 13.61s having run his first 1200m in a very slick 1:08.98.
“At the 150m (Cabeza De Vaca) really started to stop but when I looked up at the top of the straight he was 10 lengths in front,” said Collett.
“There is only so much you can do. You are not going to get there at the furlong, it’s going to be on the line if anything. You just have to be patient and hope he stops and (the jockey) has misjudged his ride, compared to me judging mine.”
Parr, whose ride prompted comparisons to his bold front-running display on Red Excitement against Winx, was quick to put his hand up after dismounting.
“I didn’t mean to go that quick and pressed the button too soon,” Parr lamented.
Collett’s decision to jump off Festival Stakes winner Testashadow proved the right one, with the jockey paying credit to his manager Bryan Haskins for engineering the move.
Collett, who is still chasing that elusive first Group One victory, said it’s too early to commit to Crack Me Up but “he is in the Doncaster so that’s a start.”
Double thumbs up from Jason Collett after Crack Me Up’s win 👍 pic.twitter.com/TWZ1OtrlkU
— Racing NSW (@racing_nsw) December 16, 2017
Queensland-based trainer Liam Birchley revealed that winning the Villiers Stakes was as much about retribution as anything having come so close with Rags To Riches back in 2008.
“It worked out a little bit unusually and we needed every bit of the straight,” said Birchley.
“I was a bit worried, especially when he had to take himself up to the leader. I didn’t think he could keep going but to his credit he has always been a trier and loves these big tracks.
“We got beat in this a few years ago a neck and a neck after a wide trip but we had a good time when we were here and a lot of the same owners are in this horse. It was a little bit of trying to get something back.”
Birchley said the four-year-old will now be freshened up to tackle Gold Coast’s Magic Millions carnival.