Trainer David Vandyke is confident that progressive stayer Prince Cheri can give him a long-awaited Group 1 victory in The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Prince Cheri was backed into favouritism for The Metropolitan after recording impressive victories in the Ranvet Handicap (1500) and the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) and Vandyke feels that the four-year-old has continue to improve in his three weeks away from the track.
The Warwick Farm-based trainer told Racing Ahead that he was full of nervous energy but believes that barring any bad luck Prince Cheri will give him the biggest victory on his training career this weekend.
“It is a nerve-wracking time and the stress levels are high,” Vandyke said.
“I am trying to make sure that I can do all I can for him heading into Saturday.
“He is spot on, looks terrific and I think that we will see even more improvement in the Metrop on Saturday.
“It is a great weight for him and if he is going to be any sort of a chance in the Caulfield Cup he has got to step up to the plate this Saturday.
“Barring bad luck he should win on Saturday.”
Prince Cheri recorded his first win at Group level with a gritty effort in the Kingston Town Stakes and is confident that the son of Lando will perform ever better when he gets his first chance over 2400 meters since arriving in Australia.
“He was out of his comfort zone a little bit and over racing facing the breeze,” Vandyke said.
“On his breeding he is not meant to get warmed up until he gets to 2400m and when he first arrived in Australia he would run around and be off the bit and be hard to get going.
“He has adjusted and acclimatized very well now to our conditions and he showed that in the Kingston Town.
“They ran home in exceptional time, quicker than the last 800 of the Golden Rose on the same day, and it was a fantastic effort.
“He has gone forward since then and in all honesty I would be disappointed if he doesn’t win.”
The four-year-old entire has drawn barrier two for The Metropolitan and Vandyke is expecting the Kingston Town Stakes winner to get a lovely run into the $400,000 race with regular jockey Jay Ford, who is also chasing his first victory at Group 1 level, on board.
“I think that Julienas will be up there putting a bit of pace on and if he is not too far away it will be perfect for a horse like him,” Vandyke said.
“He is a free striding, relaxed type of horse who should run the 2400 metres right out.
Vandyke-trained Lamasery started the 2011 edition of The Metropolitan as a clear favourite but finished third after being hindered by interference and finished fifth behind Glencadam Gold in last year’s race.
The rising trainer said that he was shattered by Lamasery’s defeat in 2011 and is hoping it isn’t a case of deja-vu on Saturday.
“Lamasery was the favourite the first time he ran in The Metropolitan and got knocked about at the 600 with a severe check and ended up running third,” Vandyke said.
“It is a bit of deja-vu.
“Expectations are high but I have never won a Group 1 and they are very hard races to win.”