It was billed as a clash between Buffering and Snitzerland but Anthony Cummings was always confident Villa Verde would cause a shock to take the Challenge Stakes at Randwick on Saturday.
Left with the last shot in that crack set of sprinters, Villa Verde swamped Snitzerland to win by a half-length with fast-finishing Famous Seamus another three-quarters of a length back in third, while Buffering weakened to run seventh.
‘‘She worked like a group 1 horse during the week and she was in a group 2 race,’’ Cummings said. ‘‘So I was confident, but you look at horses like Buffering and Snitzerland, and you have to temper that a bit.
‘‘She was going as well as Your Song did before he won his group 1 and he beat Buffering that day, so I told the boys to have a bet.’’
It was Villa Verde’s first start for the Cummings stable after she was moved from the Shaun Dwyer yard because of breathing difficulties.
‘‘We have a good way of treating those sort of things and she has reacted very well,’’ Cummings said. ‘‘She’s a very good sprinter and she will go the Galaxy next. I think that’s her go, just sitting on a good speed and letting go at the end.’’
Villa Verde was a one-time Golden Slipper favourite as a two-year-old but had not run since her spring two-year-old preparation and looked back to her best in the Challenge.
James McDonald timed his run to perfection and told the owners he thinks they will see the best of Villa Verde at 1100 metres.
‘‘They were a good bunch of sprinters, but there was a bit left there, she was at her top at the end,’’ McDonald said. ‘‘I think fresh she will be at her best at 1100 metres. I’m not sure about 1200 metres.’’
Gerald Ryan wasn’t surprised to see Villa Verde flash home and beat Snitzerland. ‘‘I’m happy with the mare, we knew that filly was going really well and gee she looked fit,’’ Ryan said. ‘‘We had to sit three wide and perhaps change the barrier and we get a different result.
‘‘She went great, we just ran into a better horse on the day.’’
Buffering led but was beaten topping the rise and trainer Rob Heathcote called him ‘‘disappointing’’ as he dropped out to run seventh.
‘‘He’s probably a bit underdone to be honest,’’ said Buffering’s jockey, Damian Browne.
‘‘He really found it hard the last 150 yards and he was probably half-a-length slower than what he usually is, and it cost him.’’