RED Excitement’s biggest claim to fame on the racetrack was the day he almost ended mighty mare Winx’s famous winning streak.
But the ageless Red Excitement can eclipse even that superb feat if he can win the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Trainer Gerald Ryan has his stable favourite in peak form and condition for the Villiers as the gelding tries to flout racing history and win Sydney’s premier summer race.
Red Excitement has been burdened with 58kg on Saturday, a handicap that has proven beyond every Villiers winner except Monton (58kg, 2011) since Key won with that weight in 1969.
But Ryan is relying on Red Excitement’s ability to carry weight well and the gelding’s competitive spirit to record a best-ever win from a race career that has already yielded 13 wins from 50 starts for just over $1 million prizemoney.
“Red Excitement is a remarkable horse and from that good barrier (five), he should be able to settle in the front half of the field,’’ Ryan said.
“He will certainly settle closer in this race than he did at Rosehill when he drew wide. He still hit the line strongly that day and has trained on well since.’’
Red Excitement ran on well to run third behind Villiers rivals Testashadow and Mister Sea Wolf in the Festival Stakes, his first placings in five starts since his outstanding effort to beat all but the great Winx in the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick back in September.
“He does run well over the Randwick mile,’’ Ryan said. “His recent runs have shown that he doesn’t have to lead in his races, either.’’
Red Excitement is at $13 in early TAB Fixed Odds betting for the Villiers behind boom Godolphin galloper Interlocuter at $3.20 favourite ahead of Mister Sea Wolf at $5.50.
Ryan is chasing a stakes race double on Saturday with Samantha lining up in the Listed $125,000 Razor Sharp Handicap (1200m).
Samantha scored a game win in the Choisir Handicap on Cup Day last month but then disappointed when only eighth behind Egyptian Symbol in the Starlight Stakes at Rosehill.
“She surprised me last start as she had wet track form but didn’t handle the Randwick heavy,’’ the trainer said. “Perhaps her form is better at Randwick.’’
Ryan is also sending promising juvenile filly Sweet Ava to the races for the first time at Canterbury on Friday night.
Sweet Ava is a full-sister to Ryan’s crack colt Menari and has impressed with two recent barrier trial wins.