It is business as usual for Sydney’s premier trainer Chris Waller who has started the year with a feature win.
The Waller-trained Vilanova made a welcome return to winning form when he led all the way to take out the Listed Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m) at Randwick.
Group One-placed in the 2014 Queensland Derby, Vilanova had not won a race since his lead-up to the Classic in the Grand Prix Stakes in May that year.
But his recent form encouraged Waller going into the Tatts Cup on the back of a third in the ATC Cup and sixth, beaten less than three lengths in the Christmas Cup.
“He’s been a good horse but he has been a bit frustrating,” Waller said.
“I told Tommy (Berry) to go forward but we did think Zatopaz would cross us.
“So the fact he was forced to lead makes the win even better.”
Vilanova ($11) had 1-1/4 lengths to spare over Sir John Hawkwood ($6) who tried hard but was anchored by his 59kg top weight.
Lucky Lucky Lucky ($11) was another long head third after playing up in the barrier and getting hampered by Sir John Hawkwood at the start for which Blake Spriggs was suspended.
Berry, who was stood down from most of Thursday’s Gosford meeting after he was hit in the head by his mount in a barrier incident, said he was feeling much better, especially after the win.
“It’s great to get a winner for Mr Waller who has been a big supporter of mine,” Berry said.
“I was very positive early on the horse. I wanted him to think he was going as well as he was.
“And I’m feeling fine. It wasn’t a big deal.”
Waller said Vilanova would run next in the Australia Day Cup.
“He will go out after the Australia Day Cup and then he will go out for a short break and we will get him ready for Queensland in the winter,” he said.
Sir John Hawkwood will have a few weeks off and be prepared for the Sydney Cup.
“I was a bit concerned when they upgraded the track to a good three and I think he felt it a bit, especially under the big weight,” trainer David Vandyke said.