By Ray Hickson
Trainer Steven O’Dea didn’t need the rain to fall on Thursday night to be confident about Doubt Defying’s chances in the Group 2 $200,000 Fugen Construction Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick.
But with a heavy track win at Randwick on his CV just two months ago he sees the prospect of at least soft ground as just another plus.
“It’s certainly not going to hurt his chances. He’s a horse that is effective on wet or dry equally,’’ O’Dea said.
“The big track and a mile suits him well, he’s only had four runs at a mile for three wins and the one time he was unplaced he pulled up sore and had to have six months out.’’
Since Doubt Defying’s easy Randwick win back in October he accounted for Listed company in the Sale Cup on a good track and O’Dea then threw him into the Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m).
After racing on the speed he was beaten just over four lengths by Trap For Fools with O’Dea saying he felt the five-year-old “acquitted himself well’.
Doubt Defying wins at Randwick on October 6
In the five weeks since that run he’s been home to Queensland and warmed up for the Villiers, where TAB has him at $8.50, with a barrier trial at Doomben on December 4.
“He’s a clean winded horse, he had a nice gallop on Tuesday so I’m pleased where he’s at fitness wise,’’ O’Dea said.
“It’s a handy field but he’s definitely right there in the mix.
“He’s drawn a nice gate, he’s not going to be too far from the speed. There looks to be three or four that can roll forward and he’ll probably find himself with a nice spoft run in behind.
“He’s a horse that’s really strong at the end of his races and seems to relish these big tracks.’’
Doubt Defying is striving to be the second Queensland trained horse in as many years, following Crack Me Up in 2017, to take out the summer feature and claim exemption from ballot into the 2019 Doncaster Mile in April.
Aside from thinking he’ll measure up to the required level, O’Dea said he doesn’t have anything particular mapped out for the autumn as yet so a Villiers win could shape his next campaign with Doubt Defying.
“I’d have to give it serious consideration,’’ he said.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he continues to improve. He worked his way to open company last time and has measured up to black type company this time.
“I couldn’t be happier with his work leading into this run. If he’s able to have luck go his way and go through his gears like he can he’s got to be right in the finish.’’
Meanwhile, stablemate and Roman Consul Stakes winner Sesar is back in O'Dea's stable, following his seventh in the Coolmore Stud Stakes, with races like the Randwick Guineas on the radar.