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Warwick Farm stable chases European horses

Like most trainers, Matthew Smith is always on the lookout for a European stayer to complement his stable.

Also like many, Smith finds the prices prohibitive so he is more than happy to have secured Villardo from Germany.

The three-year-old will make his way to Smith’s Warwick Farm stable towards the end of next month with the trainer hoping he can one day be a Melbourne Cup contender.

Prepared in Germany by Cup winning trainer Andreas Wohler, Villardo has won his past two starts at Hoppegarten and Hanover.

“I’m very excited about getting him out here,” Smith said.

Smith has a European agent constantly looking for the right horse for Australian conditions.

“Once he finds something he likes we look at their runs and then get the agent to make some enquiries,” Smith said.

“We’ve got a French vet that is a really good judge of conformation so he goes and checks them and puts them through their paces.

“The good thing is you can also see their action in a race on video and you get a feel for the horse watching what they can do.

“Providing the vet says their conformation, their size and everything is in order for Australian conditions then we’re happy to proceed.”

Smith said Villardo fitted the bill and the price was right.

“He looks a pretty smart horse,” Smith said.

“There’s two options in Europe, you either spend a million on the ones that have performed or you find one on the way up and hope it’s the right one.”

Smith said after Villardo’s arrival in Sydney he will be given eight weeks off before going into work.

The trainer hopes to have former French mare La Courbette in Melbourne for the spring mares’ races.

He says she is not appreciating the wet tracks in Sydney and will be better suited when she gets on top of the ground.

“She’s a nice mare and we’re hopefully going to get another (European) one in the next few days,” Smith said.

“If they have the right form references and we can get them for the right money, then we’re keen to have a crack at them.”

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