13 January 2012 - Lisa Miles is confident Villagem can reproduce his best form in tomorrow night’s PETstock Bendigo Pacing Cup at Lord’s Raceway. Villagem stamped itself as one of Australia’s best pacers in 2010, winning the Group One Chariots Of Fire in Sydney and the Group One 4YO Breeders Crown Final.
The progression to grand circuit racing looked a formality for the the son of Village Jasper. However, 2011 was a year of frustration for the Miles stable, with Villagem running one placing from 11 starts in the calendar year after battling a series of allergies. "He’s only the second or third horse we’ve had that had this kind of problem, so it was pretty frustrating," Miles said. "It took us a while to work out that it was an allergy issue. We had to keep giving him blood tests to try and work out what the problem was. "Once we got the answer it was a case of managing the problem. "With the medication we needed to treat him we couldn’t race him.We put racing on hold, treated him properly and then waited for the medication to get out of his system.
"It’s the trials and tribulations of having a good horse... everyone has to go through these problems at times." Villagem showed he’s lost no speed by winning two recent trials in impressive style at Melton and Shepparton. "Even though we couldn’t race him, we kept him ticking over at home so he maintained his fitness," Miles said. "His two trial wins were a relief more than anything. It was a relief to see him somewhere near his best and that we’re back on track. It’s such a high level that he has to race in these days and you can’t afford to be five per cent off your game. "The horse has showed us that he is healthy again and ready to race." Tomorrow night’s $50,000 Bendigo Pacing Cup will give Miles a better indication of where Villagem stands. Polemarker Decorated Jasper and standout mare Make Mine Cullen will be the testing material in an even race. "It’s nice to see the horse has drawn barrier five and not the back row," Miles said. "It gives us the option of going forward at the start.
"You really can’t disregard any horse in the field, they’ve all earned their spot. "Decorated Jasper from the draw is a threat. Captain Joy is going well and Sammy Maguire must be going well for Mark Purdon to bring him over from New Zealand. "Make Mine Cullen has got her form on the board. Hopefully, we’re thereabouts at the finish." - Adam Bourke (Bendigo Advertiser)