By Bren O'Brien
Despite having clocked up just over 10,000km in travel since her win in the G1 Crown Perth Winterbottom S. last year, Viddora (I Am Invincible) goes into the defence of her title on Saturday in very much the same shape as she was 12 months ago according to her trainer Lloyd Kennewell.
It's rare to see a horse embark on a fully national campaign these days, but Viddora's appearance at Ascot on Saturday will mean she has started in five different states in six starts during 2018.
Kennewell said the 6-year-old mare just relished the experience and sees no reason why she can’t capture her third Group 1 win on Saturday.
"She loves the travel. She knows when she is off for a working holiday. She really enjoys it, I couldn’t be happier with where she's at. She's landed in Perth in great order and we are crossing the days off the calendar to make sure she gets there fit and healthy and sound on Saturday," he told TDN AusNZ.
"She's pretty similar to where she was at last year. She was set for it last year and she's been set for it this year, I don't really see too much of a difference. She's always at a high level anyway to be honest, it is just a matter of keeping her ticking over."
The Everest effect
What is a difference this time is her lead-in to the race. Last year she came off unlucky runs in the G1 Moir S. and the G1 Manikato S. and had a six-week break into the Winterbottom S.
This year she won the G1 Moir S. and then took on the riches of The Everest at Randwick, where a heavy track foiled her chances of victory in the $13 million race.
The stewards' report out of The Everest wasn't pretty. She was reported to have had a slow recovery and her regular jockey Joe Bowditch felt something may be amiss.
However, her progress in the seven weeks since then has impressed Kennewell, who feels the mare has taken no long-term harm from a torrid run.
"She trialled good the other week at Cranbourne. She came through the run in The Everest really well." - Lloyd Kennewell
"She trialled good the other week at Cranbourne. She came through the run in The Everest really well. Like most of them, she was a bit worse for wear for 24 hours after the race. The track was bottomless but she has come through it and she's very resilient," he said.
"I never thought she was off track, it was just the track conditions that didn't suit her in Sydney. If you take that out of the equation, she's only had one bad run in 18 months. She's in good order, I couldn’t be happier with where she is at."
Best horse in the race
Viddora has been at the top of markets for the Winterbottom since Kennewell confirmed she was set to defend her title a week after The Everest. While the field for Saturday won't be confirmed until Wednesday, she will be the only Group 1 winner engaged.
But her trainer knows how hard it is to win Group 1 races and is not taking anything for granted.
"It’s a Group 1, they don’t give them away out of Weet Bix packets. They aren't easy to win. I don’t take it lightly, you just have to hope that everything goes smoothly on the day," he said.
"She's the best horse in the race, it’s just a matter of things going right."
"She's the best horse in the race, it’s just a matter of things going right." - Lloyd Kennewell
Her chief rival will be the Adam Durrant trained Enticing Star (Testa Rossa), who has won eight of her nine starts for her owner Bob Peters.
"You don’t underestimate Bob Peters' horses. They are very handy horses and well-bred horses," he said.
"I don’t disrespect any of the locals, but Bob's horses are very well bred and well prepared and obviously she's only been beaten once. She goes very good, but she's never raced at weight-for-age against horses like Viddora."
"We are 2/1 favourite to win the race, so she's clearly the best horse, but there is very good respect for some nice horses in the race."
"We are just worried about our horse and everything going right, if that all happens, hopefully we end up with the right result."