By Mark Brassel
Astute Sunshine Coast trainer David Vandyke will be heading south with a quartet of horses chasing the excellent New South Wales prizemoney on Wednesday.
The master trainer is travelling the near four-hour journey from Caloundra to Ballina and is confident he can continue with a purple patch of form.
“I had just the one runner at Ipswich on Friday, French Toast, and she was successful,” Vandyke said. “That makes four winners from my last seven runners.”
All races on the Ballina program carry $20,000 which entices interstate trainers with Vandyke’s team consisting of Trois Choix, The Mechanic, Royal Receiver and Lord Marmaduke – all four will be partnered by Michael Cahill.
Vandyke will start former Sydneysider Trois Choix in the Open Handicap (1250m) and expects the mare to run boldly.
“I took her back to the trials to try and get her more competitive,” Vandyke explained. “She won the trial well and it was a very strong field.
"She also likes the wet and those conditions are more than likely at Ballina, so she should run well.”
Trois Choix won the 1270m trial at the Sunshine Coast beating a line-up that included Sort After (Stakes-placed), Bettabet Red (last start Ipswich carnival winner), Volatile Mix (SA Derby winner) and Neverland (dual Perth Cup runner-up).
The Mechanic has raced just once for a fourth at Eagle Farm last December but has trialled twice for his return in the Maiden Handicap (1000m).
“He is a horse we were going to sell to Asia at one stage. We thought he’d win his only start in a class 2 race as a maiden but it didn’t turn out. We then had to revise our plans as we were going to the Magic Millions. He won his trial nicely the other day in readiness for his return and I’m expecting him to run very well.”
Royal Receiver has a win and two placings from eight starts and will run in the Class 2 Handicap (1600m): “We were targeting the Queensland Derby with this bloke but he disappointed once we put him over a distance,” Vandyke said. “He is coming back from 2200m to 1600m and I’m sure he will perform.”
Lord Marmaduke is entered for the Class 3 Handicap (1250m) and has a similar record with a win and three placings from eight starts: “He hasn’t raced since May 1 but trialled nicely over 850m the other day. He will go forward – probably lead – and should take running down as the Ballina track will suit him down to the ground.”
Like Trois Choix, Lord Marmaduke did most of his racing in NSW and was a Hawkesbury winner (1100m) at the club’s big Ladies Day meeting last November.
Ballina Jockey Club’s CEO, Matthew Bertam, said: “Wednesday’s program is a transferred meeting from Murwillumbah.
“It’s an important day for local industry participants as the area has endured a terrible six months of inclement weather including the impact by Cyclone Debbie that caused two racetracks to be completed inundated with flood waters.
“We haven’t raced since March and lost our last three meetings due to rain. We’re extremely grateful to Racing NSW as are our participants for rescheduling this meeting. It’s free entry and all our bar, café and TAB facilities will be operating as normal.”