Punters and Religify don’t always see eye-to-eye but his trainer won’t hear a word against him.
Religify rewarded those who stuck by him with victory at Rosehill last Saturday week after two seconds as favourite.
He is the $4.20 early favourite to claim a first stakes win in Saturday’s Group Three Festival Stakes (1500m), a lead-up to the Villiers Stakes two weeks later.
He is one of three runners for leading trainer Chris Waller who has a soft spot for the gelding.
“He might not be the punters’ favourite but he is a stable favourite,” Waller said.
“It was a smart ride by Kerrin McEvoy last time from the outside barrier.”
Last time out, McEvoy steered him to the front out of the barrier and contrrolled the race with Religify crossing the line 2-1/4 lengths in advance of Duca Valentinois with Red Excitement another 1-1/2 lengths third.
Red Excitement, who downed Religify on November 5 is among his opponents in the Festival while Duca Valentinois has been scratched from the Festival to run instead in the benchmark 85 over the same distance in which he will carry 61kg..
Waller also has Marenostro and Amovatio trying to strengthen their claims for the Group Two Villiers Stakes (1600m).
Marenostro finished seventh behind Religify in the Rosehill race while Amovatio has returned from Melbourne where he finished fourth in the Group Three L’Oreal Paris Plate at Flemington on November 3 won by Rageese.
The Darren Weir-trained Rageese is the $5 Festival second favourite after missing a start in Perth because of a foot abscess on the morning of the Group One Railway Stakes.
Weir set an Australian record for winners last season but is yet to break his Sydney duck from limited runners.
Waller said Amovatio was fit and ready for the Festival after winning a jump-out at Flemington last week.
“His fitness is up to the mark,” Waller said.
“”Marenostro was a bit soft first-up but should be better for that.”