By Ray Hickson
Back in December when Vangelic returned to Tulloch Lodge co-trainer Adrian Bott publicly earmarked the filly as a horse that could jump out of the ground in the autumn.
If her second-up effort in the Surround Stakes last month is any guide he might not be far off the mark and a Group 1 win in Saturday’s $600,000 Coolmore Classic (1500m) at Rosehill is a realistic goal.
At the time he told Racing NSW: "She’s been a lightly framed filly and lacked a bit of that maturity, doing it all on natural ability. Hopefully she can take that next step and win a decent one herself”.
Vangelic has to date just the one win to her name, on debut in January last year, but she has four stakes placings to her name including two at Group 1 level and Bott said she’s caught up in her physicality.
“She was doing it when she was still physically a bit immature, we took her along steadily and with that she still stepped up and ran some big races,’’ Bott said.
“I thought with any physical improvement she’s only got to improve. She has strengthened up and with that we have been able to work her accordingly this time around.
“She still has to do it, she still hasn’t won a stakes race yet so she still has improve enough to be winning at that level.”
Bott and Gai Waterhouse combined to win last year’s Coolmore Classic with Con Te Partiro, the first for the partnership but a record-equalling fifth (with Max Lees) for Waterhouse.
The Hall Of Fame trainer has won Coolmores with Assertive Lass (1997), Bollinger (2003), Shamekha (2004) and Tuesday Joy (2007).
Vangelic raced three wide without cover in the Surround two weeks ago so to be beaten three lengths by Forbidden Love, who gained inside runs, pleased Bott and told the stable she’s worthy of the chance.
With just 50kg for Kathy O'Hara, Vangelic ($12 with TAB on Friday) will meet Forbidden Love 4.5kg better at the weights.
“I think she well and truly put her hand up,’’ he said.
“She covered a bit of ground and ran a brilliant race, she probably peaked on her run late with improvement to come. She meets the winner a bit better under the conditions and with that you’d have to think she’s a genuine chance.
“It’d be nice to capitalise on the opportunity and for her to get a big win which she deserves. She’s been pretty consistent at the top level and run good races.
“She gets the right conditions to have a crack, in at 50kg, she’s drawn well and going in third-up which was ultimately her best run last campaign as well (third in the Flight Stakes).”
The Golden Slipper isn’t in the planning for Frankel youngster Converge but Bott said the Group 3 $175,000 Bowermans Commercial Furniture Pago Pago Stakes (1200m) will tell the stable a lot about the immediate future which Bott suspects will be over more ground.
Vangelic runs second at Randwick on February 27
Waterhouse and Bott will be relying on Swift Witness in Saturday week's $3.5m two-year-old classic.
Converge ($34) won on debut at Warwick Farm on December 9 after leading and will wear blinkers for the first time on Saturday.
“He’s come back in great order. Given his breeding the best is yet to come,’’ Bott said.
“We didn’t necessarily think he was a jump and run two-year-old type and he just did what he had to on debut.
“There are a few in that race he might find a bit sharper over that trip. It’s a nice starting point for him, it’ll give us a good gauge as to whether he’s up to that level.
“It’ll decide whether he’s on a Bailleu (1400m) and Fernhill (1600m) path but if he comes out and runs a big race the Sires’ (1400m) and Champagne (1600m) is the path for him.”