Viva Vienna salutes in Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes

Viva Vienna (left) storms home outside of Illicit Dreams to claim the Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m). Photo: Ajay Berry (Race Images South)

Three-year-old filly Viva Vienna once again displayed her prowess on the racetrack, solidifying her position as a formidable contender for the coveted Group 1 New Zealand 1000 Guineas (1600m) scheduled for November.

The Listed Canterbury Belle Stakes (1200m) served as the stage for her impressive performance.

Facing off against her arch-rival, Illicit Dreams, expectations were high for a fierce battle between the two.

In their previous encounter at the same venue just two weeks ago, Viva Vienna and Illicit Dreams had engaged in a fierce duel down the home straight.

This time around, Illicit Dreams, starting from a wide barrier, made an early dash for the lead, with Viva Vienna and jockey Sam Weatherley poised in stalking position.

Illicit Dreams surged ahead at the 300m mark, seemingly establishing a comfortable lead. However, Viva Vienna, once she found a clear path, unleashed a powerful late surge that saw her overtake her adversary in the final strides, maintaining her flawless record with two consecutive victories this campaign.

Sam Bergerson, one of the trainers responsible for Viva Vienna’s success, acknowledged the strategic decision that played a pivotal role in their triumph.

“We knew she would jump well and put herself there, but we discussed having the option to take a sit, and that was the winning of the race in the end.

“We got a breather in behind and then came off her (Illicit Dreams) back, so it was a really good ride.”

Addressing any doubts about the filly’s ability to handle a strong 1200m race, Bergerson added, “The query was if she would get a strong 1200m, and she was very strong through the line, so a good effort by a tough little filly.”

The confidence in Viva Vienna’s potential was reflected in the response from online bookmakers, who promptly adjusted her price to +1100 for the upcoming 1000 Guineas, indicating it as her primary goal for the spring season.

Bergerson shared his plans, saying, “The 1000 Guineas is a lovely target for her if she stretches out to that distance. We will get her home and see how she does and then make a plan.”

Sam Weatherley, the jockey aboard Viva Vienna, was also enthusiastic about their performance, highlighting, “She settled well and attacked the line, so I’m thrilled for everyone involved.”

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