Godolphin colt Veranillo has all but assured himself a Golden Slipper start with a winning return to racing at Randwick.
An easing favourite in Saturday’s Hinchinbrook/Lonhro Plate, Veranillo rallied from a precarious position at the 200m to score decisively from Exceeds in the Listed race.
It was the two-year-old’s first start since creating a favourable early-season impression with a debut win at Rosehill in November.
Veranillo has banked almost $150,000 in stakes from his two wins, the latest adding black type to a pedigree page that includes the Group One winner Benfica as a close relation.
“He should have enough prize money to get into the Golden Slipper now and there are a few ways we can approach the race,” Godolphin trainer John O’Shea said.
“There’s a race like the Skyline (Stakes) or even the Black Opal Stakes at Canberra could fit in.”
Since the 1100m-race was elevated to Listed status in 2014, O’Shea has won it three times for Godolphin.
His 2015 winner Haptic went into the Golden Slipper without another start and last year Telperion won the Skyline on the way through.
Telperion was rated a luckless Golden Slipper runner when fourth while Haptic ran down the course.
Veranillo ($3.70) settled two lengths off the leader Eden Roc before jockey James Doyle allowed his mount to close the gap before the turn.
But keeping an unbeaten record looked under threat when Cuba, backed from $9 to $6, sprinted quickly to join the leaders.
When Cuba’s run came to an end at the 150m, Veranillo lifted for Doyle to beat Exceeds ($4.40) by 1-1/4 lengths.
Eden Roc ($4) held down third – a half neck further away.
“He is an unassuming horse but he does everything right,” O’Shea said.
“The only thing I will say at the moment is that he hasn’t run time yet but hopefully that will come.”
Doyle, who hasn’t taken long to establish a reputation as one of Sydney’s strongest riders since answering a Godolphin SOS after James McDonald’s ban, expects Veranillo to make further progression.
“He’s certainly going the right way, He’s improved from his first start to his second start and he’ll improve again,” the English jockey said.