130TH RUNNING OF THE VILLIER STAKES
December 8, 2021
Naming the race
The Villiers Stakes was most likely named for the Governor of NSW at the time, The Earl of Jersey, Victor Albert George Child Villiers. He was appointed to the Governorship in 1890, holding the role until 1893.
As apprentices, several jockeys have won the Villiers. Peter Cook was one when in 1969 he crossed the post on Sir To Me. He would continue to have a very successful racing career and as a senior jockey would win the Villiers in 1980 on Tuna Too (NZ). John Duggan had two wins in the Villiers, both when he was an apprentice. First on Silver Points (NZ) in 1970 and next on Torumba (1972). More recently Brenton Avdulla enhanced his apprenticeship with a win in the Villiers in 2010 on Dances On Waves. On reaching the ranks of a senior jockey, Avdulla added to his Villiers tally when he won in 2015 aboard Happy Clapper.
Women In Racing
Rachel King is a dual winner in the Villiers Stakes. She came out of her apprenticeship in 2018 having topped the apprentice premiership the previous season. King would have her first major win in the Spring Champion Stakes aboard Maid Of Heaven for Mark Newnham. She teamed up with Newnham again to win the Villiers Stakes on Quackerjack in 2019 and then in 2020, the pair won with Greysful Glamour.
Another woman who saw success was Brisbane-based Trainer Helen Page won the Villiers in 1989 with Spot The Rock (It was her first Group-level win) and again in 2014 with Luke Tarrant and Rudy. Luke Tarrant piloted him well to a narrow but strong win over I’m Imposing.
Ron Quinton, after many years of success as a jockey, has become a well-respected trainer. As a jockey in the Villiers, he had two wins. First on Dear John (NZ) in 1978 and then in 1981 on Zing Along. As a trainer, his success was with Monton in 2011. Kevin Moses was another jockey who took out his trainer’s license once he’d finished in the saddle. He’d won the Villiers on King’s Ideal in 1979. Then in 2012 G. Schofield crossed the line for him aboard All Legal.
Did you know…
The 1945 Villiers brought Bernborough to his champion status. It was a day of soaring temperatures, bushfires were raging, there was a power strike and restricted transport. And yet, 44,000 racegoers made their way to Randwick for Villiers Day. Lining up with the field was Bernborough. As yet relatively unknown, the six-year-old was ready for the main stage. He won by five lengths from Good Idea who came in three lengths ahead of Victory Lad.
In 1964, great excitement took place as Gay Song (NZ) and Blue Era (NZ) crossed with nothing between them. The judges couldn’t separate them, and it was declared a dead heat.
Equine Influenza brought racing to a halt in 2007. Amongst many other Spring and Summer races, the Villiers Stakes did not run that year. In 2008, however, it ran twice. In January, Honor In War (USA) was given the race after a protest by Takeover Target. The Villiers Stakes ran again in 2008 in its usual December slot and Something Anything won narrowly with C. Munce aboard.
Run over the famous Randwick mile, the Villiers Stakes can be connected to some of the other major mile races, though wins across them are rare. Happy Clapper achieved an unusual treble. He won the Villiers in 2015 and then the other mile races the Doncaster and the Epsom in succeeding years.
Witness the 130th running of the Villiers Stakes this Saturday 11 December for The Agency Villiers Stakes Day at Royal Randwick.
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