Bubbles O'Leary and Todd Mitchell winning at Alexandra Park, the 100th in Roger Villiger's career. Photo: Trish Dunell
Don’t bother asking Roger Villiger what has been behind the turnaround in fortunes of Bubbles O’Leary, because he doesn’t really know.
The Morrinsville mare made it two wins in seven days at Alexandra Park on Friday night, proving too good for hot favourite Double O Heaven.
And in the process she gave her trainer his 100th career winner.
In her immediate prior racing she had put up seven unplaced performances in a row and it seems a freshen-up and a ramped-up workload have done the trick.
“It’s hard to say what’s changed,” noted Villiger.
“She’s obviously stepped it up, though in saying that she has gone some nice races at Auckland in the past.
“This season she’s run a lot of handy fifths but she went horrible one night so we turned her out.
“Her first start back from that at Cambridge ok.”
That was in late April and it would be a month until she stepped out again.
“That run obviously brought her on and we have been poking quite a bit of work in to her since.”
Local horseman Phil Coppins has been helping out Villiger and deserves most a lot of praise for the mare’s change in fortunes, according to her trainer.
“Phil’s been helping me, and has been doing all of the work with her so deserves most of the credit.
“And Phil had been happy with her heading in to these runs, but you can never be too confident when you head to Auckland.”
Villiger’s brother, Willie, bred Bubbles O’Leary, by Real Desire, out of his one-start mare Abz (Live Or Die).
“She’s been a good producer for him actually; Spare Change has won five and he’s got a nice Auckland Reactor two-year-old in work as well.
“He’s taken a bunch of his friends in to Bubbles O’Leary on lease and they all love watching her go around.
Villiger, the elder statesman of trainers at Scott Reserve in Morrinsville, says he is doing more than he would like to be in Winter.
“I’m working more than I’ve had in a while, actually – 12 to 15.
“Most of them are babies – I’ve been doing a lot of breaking in for Mike Berger and Stephen Doody – and just four or five race horses.”
Spare Change almost made it a double for the broodmare, owner and trainer when running a tidy second to Magilligan Point later in the evening.
As for Bubbles O’Leary, Villiger is just hoping she doesn’t find herself rated beyond her means after back-to-back city wins.
“It gets pretty tough pretty quickly once you get up in the ratings.
“She’s no superstar but we’ll keep pottering around with her and hopefully she stays competitive.”
Later in the night, Cup class horse Classie Brigade made a welcome return to the winners’ circle after more than a year away from the race track.