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Article 30th September 2023 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

Vandeek (5-4 Favourite) made it four wins from as many starts when coming home the impressive winner of the Group One Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs at Newmarket this afternoon. 

Partnered by James Doyle, the two year old Havana Grey colt was slowly away from the stalls and was held up at the rear of the nine-strong field. He began to make headway quarter of a mile from home and went to the front entering the final furlong.  

The result was never in doubt thereafter as he showed an amazing turned of speed to go on and win by two and a quarter lengths from Task Force (15-2), who stayed on from off the pace to take second with River Tiber (11-4) another head away in third.

Vandeek was recording his second Group One victory after taking the Prix Morny at Deauville in France last month. His two earlier successes came in a Nottingham maiden and the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood.

Simon Crisford, who trains the winner alongside his son Ed, commented: “He has a wonderful temperament and all of the talent to match it. He is very fast and very good. The way he was walking around the paddock with his ears pricked and being half asleep is great testament from his breeder Kelly Thomas through to his preparation as a breeze-up through to what he has done here at Newmarket today. It is fantastic.

“That race took a lot of winning today. The Prix Morny was an exceptional race. When he hits the front he tends to idle a bit, but I couldn’t see anything running him down so I was quite hopeful in the last hundred yards.

“I don’t know whether we need to try to do that (stretch him out to a mile). He is a champion over this distance. We will let the horse tell us as much as we can and take it from there. He is a tall leggy horse, and he covers a lot of ground so he could easily go further.

“We will talk to his owner, but the person that will decide if he comes to the Dewhurst is the horse himself. If he tells us he wants to come here maybe we will.

“We were second with Jash when Ten Sovereigns beat us, so I was scared Aidan O’Brien was going to hunt us down again, but we came here pretty confident and we knew we had something special. He had been working exceptionally well and he is such a kind horse to go with it.

“It didn’t appear to be quite as smooth visually as we’ve seen before. When he hit the front he was idling a bit, but he came here in fantastic condition and we thought he could win and he did.

“It was a little bit (of a concern when he was slowly away) as that wasn’t part of the plan we said beforehand. We said the pace would hold up so we didn’t want to get too far back whatever happened. He has been slow away before but that is him as he is so laid back and he is half asleep in those stalls. We can’t keep him awake. He was flat out asleep today until noon today. We couldn’t get him up to come to the races. His mind is so good, which is important as it makes our job easy.

“I thought don’t stop (when I saw the gap appear) and keep going. This is something really special. He is one of the best two-year-olds in the world and he has never let us down.

“When you come with an unbeaten Group One winner into another championship race you always want to deliver, and it was very important we saw him at his best today. Not just for him and his future, but for everyone who backed him as he was a well backed favourite.

“This is a Group One and this is extra special. We will only come back here if everything's the same today. Never say never, who knows.”

Successful jockey James Doyle, riding his first Middle Park winner, told ITV Racing: “It was super. I think he has shown all the qualities you need in a potential champion. He has shown he can do it on soft ground and fast ground on a variety of tracks.

“It didn’t go entirely to plan as we kind of missed the break so I just came across and used Ryan (Moore) as a bit of a target as I wasn’t convinced the ones drawn around us were the ones to be tracking so it actually panned out OK. By zooming across, I set him alight a bit so he took a bit of managing early.  

“He is just a big ball of speed and when the gap came, he went through it pretty good. I just so pleased for everyone. It’s great for KHK (Racing Ltd, owner) and Sheikh Khalid over in Bahrain. He invests heavily into this sport and has had some cracking days with Eldar Eldarov – there and plenty more to come with this one hopefully. He is quick, very fast.”

Trainer Ralph Beckett said of the runner-up Task Force: “I’m really pleased. He is a horse that we have crept here with as you can see he is not the finished article by any means. This is a horse that has done it all on his own as we have not been keen to turn the screw on him.

“I think it is unlikely he will show up in the Dewhurst, but I’m really pleased with what he has done today. He has split two very good horses so I’m delighted. He handled it very well today, better than I thought he would. He learnt again today. I’d say on the back of today I’d be keen to turn up here on the first weekend in May and you might not see him again until then.”





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