Villermont has taken advantage of a front-running ride by Damian Browne to score a courageous victory in the Gunsynd Classic Gr.3 at Doomben.
The All Too Hard colt is right on track for the Queensland Derby and bookmakers reacted by firming him into a second-favourite for the final Group 1 classic of the season on June 9.
Browne diffused a wide draw by sending Villermont to the lead on Saturday. The Ciaran Maher-trained 3yo dictated in front and then denied the closing challenge of Dark Dream to win by a nose.
“It was a great ride by Damian,” stable rep Annabel Neasham said. “The instructions were to drive forward and he just kept giving in the straight.”
Villermont had won the Sandown Guineas Gr.2 during a light spring campaign in advance of longer-term goals at the autumn and winter carnivals. “He’s been working well since arriving in Brisbane with Hardly Surprising,” Neasham added. “He has an exception record and will keep improving towards the Derby.”
All Too Hard got him from 2003 Coolmore Classic-Gr.1 winner Bollinger (Dehere). Second-dam Bint Marscay won the 1993 Golden Slipper-Gr.1.
The Vinery sire had been all set to claim a Group 1 first with Demonetization in the New Zealand Derby before the Kiwi colt suffered a fetlock injury in February. “He didn’t require surgery,” trainer Nigel Tiley reported this week. “We just let it heal on its own and we’re pleased with his progress.”
Demonetization won the Auckland Guineas Gr.2 before being sidelined. “He’s been scanned a couple of times and it all looks good for next season,” Tiley said. “The plan is to have him back in light work in June.”
All Too Hard 2yo filly Illuminaire will also be set for a spring campaign after finishing second in the Redoute’s Choice Stakes LR at Caulfield on Saturday. “We wanted to pick up some black-type this prep,” co-trainer Troy Corstens said. “She’s spot-on but will go for a break now.”
Illuminaire is All Too Hard’s 15th stakes performer in his first two crops, making him the leading 2nd Season Sire by Stakes horses. Vinery stands him for a $33,000 (inc GST) service fee this year.