First starter Deep Image is set to take on odds on favourite Winning Rupert in the Listed $100,000 Gold Edition Plate (1200m) at Doomben on Saturday.
The Bjorn Baker trained Winning Rupert is undefeated from three race starts and has been installed the $1.14 favourite for the Gold Edition Plats at Ladbrokes.com.au after scoring a five and three quarter lengths first up win in a 1200m three year old Plate at Eagle Farm on December 3.
Deep Image has been an early market mover, firming from $26 to $15, on the strength of a four and a half lengths Sunshine Coast barrier trial win over 850m on November 29 with Saturday’s race day jockey Michael Cahill in the saddle.
“I said to Michael that I wanted the trial to be a genuine test as it was an opportunity to get him ready for the races,” Sunshine Coast trainer David Vandyke told racing.com.
“I wasn’t afraid to see him use the whip to really test the horse and I liked what I saw.”
Vandyke knows that Deep Image is facing a huge task to match it with Winning Rupert but is keen to rate his three year old against one of the best in his age group heading towards the $2m Magic Millions 3yo Guineas (1400m) at the Gold Coast on January 14.
“He goes very well, I’ve got a strong opinion of him and I wouldn’t be running him in a race like this if I didn’t think he could be competitive,” Vandyke said.
“I didn’t want to just waste the opportunity and run him in an easy maiden.:
“If I didn’t think he was up to this level I could have easily found a weaker race so my thought is that if he wins great.
“If he runs top four and gets beaten then we can go the rich maiden or if he tests Winning Rupert and suggests he would be competitive in the Guineas then that is an option for us as well.”
The $10 million Magic Millions race day on January 14 also has on the program a $250,000 Magic Millions Maiden Plate over 1200m which Vandyke can target with Deep Image if he feels that is a more suitable race for him.
Winning Rupert has drawn barrier four in the eleven horse Gold Edition Plate field with Jeff Lloyd in the saddle again while Deep Image has drawn worse than midfield at gate eight.