Day At The Track

A rare visit to the track proves successful

08:45 AM 29 Oct 2016 NZDT
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Violanta Villiger and Conte Del Sasso
Violanta Villiger
Villiger family photo

She might be in her mid-80s and seldom gets to the race track these days, but Violanta Villiger, was at Cambridge Raceway with bells on last night (Thursday).

And the Morrinsville pensioner got a pleasant surprise following her official duties as the ‘special on-course guest’ after the running of the sixth race – the $7,000 John Villiger Memorial, which was won by the Tony Herlihy (MNZM) trained and driven Italian Delight.

Then after representing her late husband, Mrs Villiger was back in the winner’s circle again the following race when her son Roger trained Count Landeck to win the $7,000 Castle Bar and Grill Morrinsville Pace.

Count Landeck was the $2.30 favourite.

“I was real pleased for Mum because she owns and bred the horse. In fact when Dad passed away 28 years ago Mum surprised me and really took the bull by the horns.

“She has really absorbed herself in harness racing since then and has made some nice breeding decisions. I am very proud of her. Dad’s race is special but this time so was the one after,” Villiger said.

The 51-year-old Waikato horseman the paid a tribute to his driver Zac Butcher.

“Count Landeck is no star but he certainly made our night. He got the run to suit and Zac did the rest. He’s a very good driver and showed that tonight. It was quite an emotional night really,” Villiger said.

Butcher drove the 5-year-old Bettor’s Delight – Landeck gelding like he was the best horse in the field, and after getting to the front at the 300m they gave nothing else a chance to catch them.

They lead for the remainder to win the 2200m mobile in 2:46.5 (mile rate 2:01.8) with final 800m sectionals of 58 even and 27.3.

It was Count Landeck’s second career win and both his and Villiger’s first of the season. Villiger has now conditioned 90 winners since 1988.

“I’m working nine at the moment and he’s the best of them at present. He’s not a bad pacer but I didn’t think he deserved to be that short on the tote.

“He usually goes pretty good at Cambridge and that’s where I’ll keep racing him because he struggles a bit the Auckland way around. Like I said he’s no star but he has made Mum very happy, and that is important to me,” said Villiger.

“I liked the way he won his previous start at Cambridge, but I didn’t expect him to repeat the dose. The race panned out beautifully for him. It was the drive that got him home,” stressed Villiger.

He said he wasn’t in the same class as the best horse he had trained – the 2000 Holmes Hanover eight-win gelding, Torpedo Holme, who won just under $50,000 in stakes.

“Count Landeck can win one or two more but his half-brothers were much better than him, especially Conte De Cristo and Conte Centovalli, who won five and six races here. They are both by Christian Cullen and Mum bred the pair,” Villiger said.

“But this fella is just a little fun horse for Mum. He’s not going to get to any great heights but he’s pleasing Mum and that’s what makes me happy,” he added.

Meanwhile, the most successful horsemen at Cambridge Raceway last night were Butcher and his Clevedon bossm Barry Purdon.

Butcher saluted the judge with Count Landeck in race seven, and the Purdon trained Fellamongstabeauty in race two. Purdon also won race fourth event when Brent Mangos got the $1.10 hot favourite, Accumulator home by seven-and-a-quarter lengths.

Ironically Butcher was second in that 2200m mobile behind the Ray Green trained Amaro.

 

Duane Ranger

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