Villermont raises the bar at Rosehill

All Too Hard can raise the bar for his first Group 1 victory when Villermont takes on the cream of Australia’s classic colts in the Rosehill Guineas (2000m) this Saturday.

Villermont is still on the way up after a half-dozen starts and will jump from an inside barrier for Blake Shinn who takes over from regular rider Luke Nolen.  He won the Sandown Guineas Gr.2 in November and was placed in the Australian Guineas Gr.1 last time out at Flemington.

“He’s fit enough and will be strong through the line,” trainer Aaron Purcell predicted.  “But we don’t want him stuck in traffic from that gate.  He’s a big striding horse and needs enough time and galloping room to wind up.”

Za Zi Ba can bank her first black-type for All Too Hard in Race 1 on the Golden Slipper card at Rosehill.   She just missed out when fourth in the Fireball Stakes LR at Randwick earlier this month and can make amends in the Darby Munro Stakes LR.

Villermont’s stablemate Hardly Surprising is also ready for a black-type test at Moonee Valley on Friday night.  Nolen stays in Melbourne to ride her in the Alexandra Stakes Gr.3.

Hardly Surprising will be the 12th stakes performer by All Too Hard if she figures in the finish.  She deserves a crack after running first or second in all five starts this season.

Lindsay Park 2yo filly Cristal Eyes logged the first black-type from the Vinery sire’s second crop at Flemington last Saturday.  It was a tremendous effort to get within a half-length of her stablemate Khulaasa in the TBV Stakes Gr.3.

“I was very impressed with the way she finished off at just her second start,” trainer David Hayes said.  “She will be better suited over further ground and we’re looking to the (G1) Thousand Guineas in the spring.”

All Too Hard’s WA connection added more black-type on Wednesday when Fine Scent was runner-up in the Rangeview Stud Classic LR at Bunbury.  She is a half-sister to 2003 Golden Slipper Stakes Gr.1 winner Polar Success.

That result lifted his stakes-performers to winners strike-rate to a lofty 21%.

Kiwi trainer Stephen Marsh also has a high opinion of his debut winner Highfalutin Gal.  The All Too Hard filly was headed in the straight but fought back to win the CHB Ram Breeders Maiden (1200m) by a length at Waipukurau on Thursday.

Her dam Marquardt (Shamardal) was a Listed winner in Sydney (AJC Nivison Hcp) and Melbourne (MRC Twilight Glow Stakes).

“She’s shown us plenty in private but we’ve given her plenty of time,” Marsh said.  “It’s good to win one for the Ingham family but we won’t be too ambitious this prep.  She will have one or two more runs and come back as a very nice four-year-old.”