Trainer David Vandyke believes that progressive stayer Prince Cheri will face his acid test when he steps up in class and distance to contest the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
Prince Cheri started his preparation with a third place finish behind Pretty Pins at Randwick on August 10 and stamped himself as a horse to watch this spring with a dominant victory in the Ranvet Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on August 31.
Vandyke has always had a high opinion of Prince Cheri and has set the Lando gelding for an ambitious 2013 Spring Racing Carnival path, which includes a crack at the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), and he told Racing Ahead this morning that he cannot wait to see the four-year-old compete over 2000 meters for the first time since he arrived in Australia at the end of last year.
“It will be exciting to see what he does on Saturday because I have been dying to see him up over a bit of a distance,” Vandyke said on RSN.
“He has won over 1550m and 1500m so 2000m should be his acid test.
“If he is going to be a serious contender for the Caulfield Cup he has got to win on Saturday.
“He is on the limit at 54 and there will be little excuses for him if he doesn’t win.”
Prince Cheri has drawn barrier thirteen for his first race at Group level but Vandyke said that he is not worried about the outside draw and believes the French import will head into the event close to his peak fitness.
“Going on Prince Cheri’s last start he should roll forward,” Vandyke said.
“He has improved quite a bit since his last start.
“He has dropped about five kilos – I was looking at him just a short time ago and I thought that he was not far off 100 percent.”
Prince Cheri will need to be at his best to win the Kingston Town Stakes, with 2012 Australian Derby runner-up Polish Knight, the in-form Lucripetous, stablemate Less Is More and David Payne-trained Honorius all included in the final field.
Vandyke is chasing his second victory in the Kingston Town Stakes after winning the race with Lamasery in 2011.