Vilana bound for Winterbottom Stakes after Hunter win

Vilana wins The Hunter
Vilana pictured finishing ahead of In The Congo during The Hunter at Newcastle last Saturday.

The James Cummings stable says more victory spoils could be headed the way of Vilana, this time in Group 1 company for the Winterbottom Stakes.

On Monday, Cummings said the 1200m sprint worth $1.5 million at Ascot in Perth would be an ideal next target for him.

If the four-year-old does start in the November 26 feature, the Godolphin stable has every bit of confidence its star short-distance horse – currently at $6 to win his first race at the top level – would be hard to beat.

“Oh my goodness, he’s fantastic. He’s come along really nicely,” stablehand Amy Walker told after Vilana’s impressive finish to win The Hunter in Newcastle, with Nash Rawiller aboard, on Saturday.

“I think the wide barrier undone him a bit in the Golden Eagle (finishing eighth from barrier 20), but he handles himself really nicely.

“It was a great run and Nash rode him a treat.

“The sky is the limit for him.”

Cummings’ assistant Darren Beadman echoed those thoughts, saying the success Vilana has enjoyed this campaign – including a win in the Silver Eagle on October 15 – has not surprised him.

“Fantastic run after a very big campaign this spring,” Beadman said in Newcastle.

“Not really (am I surprised at his form). He’s always been a nice horse.”

Highlighted by Anamoe’s exceptional preparation – including his Cox Plate victory on October 22 – it has been a year to remember for the Cummings stable.

“The way that he holds himself and his presence – he’s just a beautiful horse,” Walker said.

“Just the way he pulls himself together – particularly on race day – it’s just phenomenal.”

Cascadian has also been a Group 1-winning star in 2022, the pinnacle for him coming with his All Aged Stakes triumph at Randwick on April 16.

All this has meant young stablehand Walker has relished the chance to work alongside some of the best horsemen and horses in Australia.

“The horses have never looked better at the moment,” she said.

“They’re working really well and everything seems to be coming together really well.

“The past 12 months have probably been our best 12 months.

“James is a great trainer and Darren’s fantastic.

“Everyone just gets along. We’ve got fantastic-quality horses as well.

“That’s also a bonus and it’s just a great environment to work in.”

This week Cummings said he liked the idea of Anamoe running first-up in March, possibly in the Group 1 Canterbury Stakes over 1300m at Randwick.

There has also been speculation the superstar middle-distance runner could be aimed at feature races during the Dubai World Cup meeting in late March, before England’s Royal Ascot in June.

But for now, Beadman said his champion runner was thoroughly deserving of his spell at Osborne Park in Sydney’s north-west, having ended his preparation with a fourth-place finish in the Mackinnon Stakes on November 5.

“He had a massive spring – four Group 1s and wasn’t disgraced in the Mackinnon,” he said.

“The team will sit down and work out a plan for him for next year.

“He’s ticked every box.”

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