David Vandyke will go to Randwick on Epsom Day tomorrow with runners in two of the three Group 1 races and even though he has been in that position before, the circumstances have changed considerably.
In 2011 Vandyke only had two horses in work, three year old filly Choice Words and his handy stayer Lamasery and arrived at Randwick to take on the cream of Australian racing.
Choice Words finished down the track when eighth to Streama in the Group 1 $400,000 Coolmore Flight Stakes (1600m) but Lamasery did significantly better in finishing third to The Verminator in the Group 1 $400,000 The Big 6 Metropolitan (2400m).
“That was one of the monumental moments having runners in two Group 1s and only having two in work,” Vandyke told the Sportsman.
“Now we are back at the same place where we have one in each but it is a sign of the times that we have a runner in the first two-year-old race.”
These days Vandyke has thirty-eight horses in work at his Warwick Farm stables and will saddle up the favourite, Prince Cheri, in the Metropolitan and Arabian Gold, the second favourite in the Flight Stakes.
While Vandyke thinks it will take a miracle for Arabian Gold to turn the tables on top line filly Guelph, he is very confident that former French galloper Prince Cheri will be right in the thick of things at the end of the 2400m of the Metropolitan after winning the Group 3 $125,000 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill three weeks ago.
“He’s an interesting horse because I thought we were in trouble moving forward after the Kingstown Town,” Vandyke said.
“He was giving me signs he’d had enough but he has really turned the corner over the last week.”
“His gallop on Tuesday morning was done quite effortlessly and he is a very happy horse at the moment.”
Vandyke regards the 2400m of the Metropolitan as Prince Cheri’s pet distance and says that he is ready for it coming off a smart win in the Kingston Town Stakes, running the final 600m in 34.43 seconds.
“He’s never been asked to go as quick as he did in the Kingston Town, his final 600m was quicker than the Golden Rose,” Vandyke said.
“For a horse that will be best suited over 2400m it was new to him and I think that coming off the back of the experience and having a three weeks between runs he is going to be all the better for it.”
“The form around him has been solid and now it is up to the horse to step up to the next level.”
Vandyke also prides himself to have a starter in the first two old race of the year for the colts and geldings with Alkadabra in the Listed $100,000 NSW Thoroughbred Breeders’ Plate (1000m).
Alkadabra, a gelding by Magic Albert, has won both his barrier trials at Randwick and looms as one of the better chances against the other juveniles.
“I remember when it was a real feature as a Group 3 race and I’ll be really keen to win the Breeder’s Plate,” Vandyke said.
Prince Cheri heads the market order for the Metropolitan at $3.80 just in front of the Chris Waller trained Moriarty at $4.60.
While Arabian Gold is rated a $3.30 chance behind the odds on favourite Guelph ($1.45) in the Flight Stakes.