Unbeaten New Zealand juvenile Vinnie Eagle is set to make his Australian racing debut in the 2014 Inglis Classic after a recording an impressive victory in the Group 3 Eclipse Stakes (1200m) in Ellerslie yesterday.
Vinnie Eagle scored a win on debut in the Caci Whangarei Stakes (880m) at Ruakaka on debut in September, which didn’t overly impress co-trainer Tony Pike, and he was sent for a stint in the spelling paddock.
The I Am Invincible gelding was set for the Eclipse Stakes first-up and shot out of the gate to lead from start to finish against a strong field; earning a trip to Australia with dominant two and a half lengths victory from Steel Rose and Vespa.
“He won at Ruakaka, and wasn’t overly impressive, but he has strengthened up a lot since and his lead-up trial was super,” Pike told New Zealand Thoroughbred Marketing.
“He’s eligible for the Inglis Classic at Rosehill on January 18 and that’s always been his long-term target.
“We’ll get through Sydney and then he’ll come back and we might look at the Sires’ Produce races.”
Jockey Leigh Innes has ridden Vinnie Eagle in both of his race starts and has been happy with the improvement shown by the two-year-old but admits that he will have to continue to advance to be any chance of competing against what is set to be a strong field in the Inglis Classic.
“He’s a really good sprinting horse and once he got to the front he relaxed and quickened really well,” Innes said after the race.
“Those Sydney two-year-olds are pretty smart but he’s going in the right direction.”
Pike and his training partner Mark Donoghue prepared Sacred Falls when he took out the Group 2 Hawke’s Bay Guineas (1400m), Group 3 James and Annie Sarten Memorial Stakes (1400m) and Group 1 New Zealand 2000 Guineas in 2012 but the O’Reilly gelding was transferred to the care of Chris Waller before winning the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m).
Another two-year-old heading towards the Inglis Classic is Robbie Laing-trained Boomwaa who is set to return to the races in the 2014 ATC Membership On Sale Now Plate (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Boomwaa was originally included in the nominations to take on older horses in the Flemington 1840-2014 Handicap (1000m) at Flemington yesterday or the Browns Showcase Handicap (1000m) at Cranbourne on Friday but Laing elected to keep him to races for juvenile horses.