Vassilator set to make raceday return

Vassilator will make his raceday return at Pakenham on Saturday. Photo: Darryl Shearer

Group One performer Vassilator is set to end a frustrating last few months for his connections when he makes his raceday return at Pakenham on Saturday.

The New Zealand-bred seven-year-old has overcome an ulcer to an eye and a severe case of tying-up that had his new trainer Lisa Jones concerned for the horse’s welfare.

After a break and showing positive signs on the track, Vassilator is ready to make his return to racing in the David Bourke Memorial Handicap (1200m) this weekend.

Vassilator joined Jones’ barn at the start of the year following part-owner Colin Little’s retirement from training, but they hit a snag following his second-up run at Bendigo in April.

“Ethan Brown was quite negative about him that day and suggested blinkers, or retirement,” Jones said.

“But the following day he had the most terrible ulcer in an eye, so I felt that was enough of an excuse for him not to run on in that race.

“We gave him the benefit of the doubt and we were getting ready for our next start and again he had been working well, but he suffered badly from tying-up, which Colin told me he had suffered badly from at Caulfield.

“Training from the paddock and going to the beach, it had not happened with me, but this tying-up was severe and the worst my vet had seen.

“His blood picture was terrible. His urine was black, and the vets feared for his life.

“He was put on a drip for three days and then there was no option but to give him a spell.”

That was around Easter and during his time convalescing, Jones gave Vassilator minimal grain to let his body recover.

Vassilator has had two Cranbourne jump-outs to prepare for Saturday’s return, his most recent last Monday when given an easy time.

Drawn out in 13, Jones expects Vassilator to be ridden quietly on Saturday and allowed to run home, with a view to competing at Flemington over 1400m on December 17.

“So long as he’s hitting the line, we’ll be happy,” she said.

Vassilator was purchased by Little out of Windsor Park Stud’s 2017 New Zealand Bloodstock Select Yearling Sale draft for $25,000 and has gone on to win five races and more than $850,000 in prizemoney.

His career highlights include victory in the Listed ANZAC Day Stakes (1400m) and runner-up efforts in the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) and Listed Manifold Stakes (1400m).

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