TRAINER David Vandyke is relying on Less Is More to continue his stable’s feature race winning momentum in the Group 3 $200,000 Panthers Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) at Hawkesbury on Saturday.
In a significant pointer for punters, Vandyke has chosen not to attend the popular stand-alone meeting and instead will be at Doomben to watch his two stayers, Maurus and Astronomos compete in separate races.
Maurus lines up in the Windsor Open Handicap (2200m) while Astronomos contests the Benchmark 85 Handicap (1630m). Both stayers are being aimed at the Brisbane Cup.
Maurus has impressed in two runs this autumn including his third to Libran and Allergic in the Listed Randwick City Stakes nearly two months ago.
Vandyke decided not to persevere with Maurus’s Sydney autumn campaign, freshening the stayer for the Queensland winter carnival. He has primed Maurus for Saturday’s race with two barrier trials, particularly an outstanding effort at Hawkesbury last week.
When I suggested to Vandyke that Maurus had “trialled like Phar Lap” the trainer was quick to reply: “And he worked like him earlier this week!”
“Maurus worked with Astronomos and gave that horse a cold,’’ Vandyke said. “The Doomben race looks a lovely race for him even though he is jumping to 2200m. Astronomos is resuming but I have been happy enough with him.
“I guess the jury is out a little as his last trial was only average but this horse has had seven trials and never run a place. But on race day he is very competitive, as his record of six wins from 10 starts shows. I expect him to finish his race strongly.’’
Vandyke said Less Is More is fitter for a sound first-up run at Randwick earlier this month and said a competitive showing in the Hawkesbury Cup will earn him a start in the Scone Cup in two weeks.
Bakers tips Sit to rise to occasion
PROMISING three-year-old Sir Plush has made winning look easy in bush racing but he has a mountain to climb at Hawkesbury.
Sir Plush is chasing his fourth successive win in the Group 3 $200,000 Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) but the bookies believe the rise in class is too steep, rating the gelding only a $35 chance.
But trainer Bjorn Baker is confident Sir Plush can measure up at stakes level. “I’ve always had a good opinion of him so what he has been doing in his most recent runs has been no surprise to me,’’ Baker said. “This is a big jump in grade but he is going the right way.’’
TAB preview: Hawkesbury Guineas67680
A TAB preview looking into Hawkesbury Guineas.
Sir Plush has romped home at Orange (twice) and Mudgee, winning his races by an aggregate of more than eight lengths. He has arrogantly dismissed older rivals during this winning sequence, convincing Baker he was worthy of a Hawkesbury Guineas start.
“He has gained confidence in his recent wins and he is holding his condition well,’’ Baker said. “I’m pretty sure he will hold his own against these horses.’’
Baker also has strong chances with Coolring in the $125,000 Hawkesbury Rush (1100m), unbeaten filly Lubiton in the $125,000 Claret Stakes (1300m) and Rock Forthe Ladies in the $100,000 Ladies Day Cup (1300m).
“Coolring is very consistent and has to be a chance in this race,’’ the trainer said. “Rock Forthe Ladies has drawn well, he should settle closer to the lead and he will run very well. Lubiton is a tough filly, suited at Hawkesbury and has also drawn the right barrier.’’