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Rudy has been primed for the Villiers Stakes with two hit-outs in Brisbane

As Rudy returns to the race where he made his name, a second Villiers Stakes win would also take Helen Page level with John Hawkes as the most successful current trainer in the race.

While the legendary TJ Smith’s benchmark of seven Villiers wins appears insurmountable, the Gold Coast-based Page can join Hawkes with three wins, the most of any active trainer.

Rudy will arrive in Sydney in the early hours of Friday aiming to repeat his 2014 win in Saturday’s Group Two race at Randwick over 1600m.

Page also won the Villiers in 1989 with Spot The Rock when her stables were at Warwick Farm.

“He’s been very successful at a mile and he’s won this race before,” Page said.

“I’ve targeted it this year.”

Rudy didn’t contest last year’s Villiers after three unsuccessful starts during Melbourne spring carnival.

But Page has re-focused on Sydney’s summer showpiece, priming Rudy for the race with two hit-outs in Brisbane.

He finished fifth in an open handicap over 1350m on the Sunshine Coast on November 16 and fourth in the Listed Recognition Stakes (1400m) at Eagle Farm on November 26, carrying big weights both times.

“I’m pleased he didn’t get any more weight by running places,” Page said.

“He’s run a couple of nice races coming into it and he’s doing very well.”

Randwick was in the soft range on Thursday with up to 15mm of rain forecast for Sydney on Friday and showers expected on race day.

The track was soft when Rudy scored a narrow win two years ago and he has an imposing record in heavy going with four wins and a second from six starts.

“He loves the wet but he likes it any way so he’s a handy horse to have,” Page said.

Rudy is a $21 chance to win his second Villiers, the same price as Malice who would also put trainer John O’Shea on level terms with Hawkes.

Fabrizio has been the dominant favourite since markets opened and is at $3.20 to win the race for trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

The Ciaron Maher-trained Hazzabeel is at $8 after a narrow defeat in the Group Three Festival Stakes at Rosehill on December 3.

There isn’t just the carrot of an automatic entry into the Doncaster Mile up for grabs with Rudy likely to be one of the horses attempting to collect the $100,000 bonus for winning the Villiers and the Bernborough Handicap in Brisbane on New Year’s Eve.

 
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