Racing: Casino Dancer ‘rock-hard’ fit
TWO months ago the $250,000 Group 2 Inglis Villiers Stakes (1600m) wasn't even on the radar for Casino Dancer, but trainer Mike Van Gestel now has one of the fittest and in-form horses in the field for the race at Randwick tomorrow.
A slick performance to clinch the Group 3 Angst Stakes at Randwick on October 10, where she ran 1600m in 1m33.22s, was in the back of Van Gestel's mind as she then raced twice in Melbourne, culminating in a win in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1800m).
"I was surprised with how well she did in the Angst. I didn't think she could run a fast mile and that changed my plans," Van Gestel said.
Originally thinking the Summer Cup (December 26) was her main goal during the summer, the extra $125,000 of the Villiers was too good to resist for a mare at the top of her game.
"I always feel confident and we're going there to win," Van Gestel said.
"The mares have something there that the geldings don't have when they're in form, so I'm confident.
"She's absolutely rock-hard fit for this. I can't get her any fitter."
Tthe five-year-old has won only once at Randwick from 18 starts, with five minor placings.
It shouldn't deter punters though as she jumps from barrier three with the rail out three metres for the entire circuit.
"It's actually her preferred track. She's a short, quick-striding mare and doesn't mind the rise," Van Gestel said.
"It's going to be a wonderful betting race and there will be some hard-luck stories. If it all goes our way during the running we'll be hard to beat."
The day also includes the $500,000 Inglis Nursery (1000m) and $250,000 Inglis Sprint (1100m).