Dabernig: Valliano a dangerous stalker
Valliano will be leading the chasing pack to try and run down Extreme Choice in the Blue Diamond Stakes, after breaking his maiden in fine style in the $250,000 Inglis Premier (1200m).
The Lindsay Park-trained gelding was a consistent performer in his three starts in the spring, including being narrowly headed by Dalradian in the Inglis race on Cox Plate Day.
He turned the tables on Saturday, picking off Dalradian and Gretna to win by 2.5 lengths fromCurvature, with Lessyd in third.
After their respective wins, Valliano is now a $17 chance for the feature, while Extreme Choice tightened from $5.50 to $3 - the clear pick ahead of Calliope ($7).
Co-trainer Tom Dabernig said he fancies Valliano's chances of hunting Mick Price's hot favourite in the $1.5 million feature on February 27.
"We've had more luck with the stable with a horse that settles, and gets a cart into it more," Dabernig said.
"The Blue Diamond's a high-pressure race, and often those horses that sit on the pace and are involved in that pressure, sometimes come unstuck.
"I'd much rather a horse that can come back a length or two."
Dabernig said Valliano had always been a precocious and professional racehorse.
"From the day that we broke him in, he picked it up very quickly," he said.
"He reminds me of one of those old-fashioned two-year-olds that just seems to do everything right.
"He's a nice horse heading into the Blue Diamond.
"I think he will [benefit from the first-up run].
"First-up at 1200m is not always easy.
"But I just love the way that he settles, and doesn't pull in the early part, and he hit the line full of running which is a good sign."
Valliano now heads straight into the Blue Diamond second-up in three weeks' time.
The win completed a double for Dabernig and David Hayes, and jockey Damian Lane, after they combined earlier with Golden Mane.