Vilanova has the class to prove a cut above his rivals

THE WORTH of Brisbane form, particularly in winter, will again be tested at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday when Vilanova runs in the seventh race, a benchmark 75 over 1350 metres.

Vilanova is very much a query runner as he has been recently gelded, a point that concerns Chris Waller, who is having a rare run of outs with strongly fancied candidates.

Usually gear changes, gelding surgery especially, leads to performance enhancement, but Waller is pouring cold water on the Vilanova situation.

Vilanova had similar credentials to Zoustar in the top Brisbane winter two-year-olds' sprints but failed subsequently in the spring.

''Zoustar had luck in Brisbane with good draws and good runs, Vilanova had no luck and was still running close to Zoustar after sitting three wide with no cover and things like that,'' Waller told AAP.

''But they don't lose their ability. It's just a matter of finding it.

''It's still there.''

However, the time factor comes into the gelding operation.

''I'm adamant about that now,'' Waller said. ''It might be different if you give them a three-month spell because there is probably natural improvement there anyway, but with him it's only been about three weeks.

''I reckon over three starts you will steadily see the improvement.''

During the spring in Sydney, Vilanova failed in top group company but drops back to regular city class on Saturday.

The three-year-old had a 900m Rosehill barrier trial on December 10 and did well to end up second in fast time as jockey Hugh Bowman kept plenty in reserve.

The Midweeker, a specialist barrier-trial publication, reported: ''Vilanova appears to have returned in good order.''

Certainly Vilanova will progress as Waller predicts, but the quality of his opposition isn't strong. Other top chances are Sir Berus, Rastro, also prepared by Waller, and Darciwood.

Verdict: Vilanova ($7).

NOT DREAMING

Global Dream, a top contender in the third, also had strong efforts around Zoustar in Brisbane last winter. Global Dream, a Fastnet Rock filly from the Tony Gollan outfit at Eagle Farm, was a 2½ length fifth to Romantic Touch (Zoustar second) and should have finished closer. Resuming from a spell, Global Dream was downed 3½ lengths in a listed 1200m race at Doomben on December 7 but needed the run. Global Dream should be suited by the extra journey, 1400m, plus the two gate and James McDonald. The Waller pair, Made To Order and Mamwaazel, are dangers, while Kona, which struck trouble last start, will wear earmuffs for the first time.

Verdict: Global Dream ($6.50).

LETHAL WEAPON

The widely travelled Words Are Weapons comes into the gear change, Brisbane category in the 1100m fifth race. Trainer Sam Kavanagh will use a tongue tie on her for the first time. Certainly Words Are Weapons was only sixth at Doomben on November 30 but on a heavy track. Previously at Rosehill, the mare was a close third to Field Marshall over 1000m after being three wide throughout in a benchmark 85. Words Are Weapons comes back to benchmark 80 from the five gate with the services of Hugh Bowman. Bowman handled favourite Calming Influence when she scored at Randwick last start, but Nash Rawiller takes over on Waller's three-year-old. The trainer told colleague Chris Roots: ''She is taking on older mares at the end of a long preparation and in my opinion would be a $5 shot but will start close to favourite.'' (Calming Influence was about $3.20 on Friday.) ''If you look at her last start she got a 10 out of 10 ride and meets stronger opposition.''

Verdict: Words Are Weapons ($7).

STORM WARNING

The benefit of racing experience for two-year-olds against a significant gear change will be put to the test by Cyclone in the second. Cyclone, a Gai Waterhouse youngster, was a strong third after being wide from the nine launch to Unencumbered over the Kensington 1000m on December 7. The Sebring colt looked short of top condition and, from gate two, Blake Shinn should give him an easier passage. However, Waterhouse also has Francesco, a $320,000 yearling, making his debut. Francesco was slow to move and ridden out to win a 727m steeple-grass trial at Randwick on December 2 but gets blinkers and Nash Rawiller rides. Quietly Brilliant comes off a seven-length win at Canberra, Pink Perfection is raring to go and Gerald Ryan has Snitzel filly Baumkuchen ready.

Verdict: Cyclone ($4.40).

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