Sydney’s biggest pre-Christmas December raceday featuring the Group 2 $250,000 The Agency Villiers Stakes is held at Royal Randwick this Saturday as the Australian Turf Club continues to welcome more spectators back to the track.
Saturday’s racing also includes the $500,000 Inglis Nursery, Listed $140,000 De Bortoli Wines Christmas Cup and Listed $140,000 Quincy Seltzer Razor Sharp Handicap on a big 10-race card with 136 entries.
Under Australian Turf Club’s continuing and industry-leading Covid-Safe protocols patrons this Saturday will now be able to stand trackside with fellow spectators throughout the afternoon, and not be required to sit between races.
There is also an easing of restrictions on numbers of people allowed inside grandstands and function rooms, although all customers indoors must remain seated throughout the raceday.
The Australian Turf Club this Saturday also pays special tribute to legendary Royal Randwick trainer Pat Webster, who is retiring from training after a career spanning more than 50 years. Mr Webster is best known in recent years as the trainer of one of Sydney’s most popular horses Happy Clapper, who won the Villiers Stakes in 2015.
Happy Clapper remains the only horse in history to win the three major Royal Randwick miles – The Star Doncaster Handicap, TAB Epsom Handicap and a Villiers Stakes.
On Saturday, the winner of The Agency Villiers Stakes will gain automatic entry into next autumn’s Group 1 $3 million The Star Doncaster Mile.
The Angela Davies-trained Through The Cracks to be ridden by Brenton Avdulla is the early $5 TAB favourite, just ahead of the James Cummings Godolphin runner Criaderas ($5.50) for jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
Outrageous trained by Hawkes Racing and ridden by Tommy Berry is next in betting at $6.50 off the back of two consecutive wins including last start in the Festival Stakes. Trainer Ron Quinton who won The Villiers Stakes as a trainer with Monton in 2011 and as a jockey twice in 1981 and 1983, saddles up Royal Celebration ($8.50).
Australian Turf Club Executive General Manager Racing and Wagering, James Ross said The Agency Villiers Stakes had again attracted a strong field.
“The Villiers Stakes is a time honoured Summer feature event and the 129th running again provides a strong field with the winner receiving an exemption the prestigious The Star Doncaster at the Sydney Racing Carnival in autumn,” Mr Ross said.
“The $500,000 Inglis Nursery is also building an impressive honour roll with horses such as Mossfun and She Will Reign going on to win the Longines Golden Slipper in recent years.”
In another wide-open betting race, Hawkes Racing and Tommy Berry combine with the early $5 TAB favourite Overmann in the Inglis Nursery. The colt is joined on the top line at $5 by the Annabel Neasham trained filly Ashema, ridden by the in-form Rachel King.
The Ciaron Maher and David Eustace pair of The Art Of Flying ($6, Hugh Bowman) and Acrobat ($7.50, James McDonald) are next in betting. For all ticketing, racing and general information on all Australian Turf Club racedays visit TheRaces.com.au