Unbeaten sprinter Vandeek has the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock as his first target as he prepares for his eagerly-awaited three-year-old campaign.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Havana Grey colt had the perfect juvenile season, running four times and winning well on each occasion as he climbed the ranks from maiden to Group One.

At Goodwood, he took the Richmond Stakes on soft ground and he was then a game winner of the top-level Prix Morny at Deauville on very soft going.

But at Newmarket in late September, he showed his versatility when producing his best run to date to land the Middle Park on good to firm.

Currently ante-post favourite for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, the Betfred-sponsored Sandy Lane has been earmarked for his opening assignment of the campaign, a six-furlong Group Two for three-year-olds on May 25.

“He’s going well, he’s wintered well, but like everywhere else, I think Newmarket has struggled with the weather,” said Chris Wall, racing manager for owner Shaikh Khalid’s KHK Racing organisation.

“They’re on target with the horse but they haven’t always been able to do what they’ve wanted to do because various canters have been closed.

“He’s in good heart and coming along nicely, he’s aiming at the Sandy Lane at Haydock in May.”

Vandeek was a leggy two-year-old and he is reported to have grown further and filled out through the winter.

Wall added: “He’s done everything right, he’s grown a bit. He was a big enough lad last year but he has grown a bit more, he’s filled out and he looks a lot stronger.

“He’s done everything the right way, he hasn’t done any fast work, so it’s too early to see if there’s a corresponding increase in his ability but we’d like to think that he’ll at least be no worse than he was last year – and that’s probably good enough.”

KHK Racing and trainer Roger Varian have a nice prospect in True Cyan, a No Nay Never filly out of the Group-winning Dark Angel mare Realtra.

Making her debut at Newmarket in September in a seven-furlong fillies’ maiden, the grey was a taking victor with a length-and-a-half triumph over three subsequent winners.

The three-year-old holds an entry for the 1000 Guineas and connections are likely to use the Nell Gwyn Stakes as a trial before hopefully proceeding in that direction.

“She’s wintered very well, I watched her do a piece of work yesterday (Wednesday) which was very satisfactory,” said Wall.

“Roger is keen to run her in the Nell Gwynn, all being well, which will tell us whether we’re Guineas-bound or whether we need to go down another route with her.

“It’s all good news with her, she looks to have improved throughout the winter, so she’ll find her level – whether that’s in the Guineas or somewhere else.

“The form from that race (her debut) looks decent, she did it very well. She’s going to be a nice filly this year if all goes well for her, at what level we will find out.”

Vandeek is set to start off his season in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock in May.

The unbeaten Simon and Ed Crisford-trained colt carried all before him in his juvenile year, with his four wins featuring Group One strikes in the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes.

He is seen very much as a sprinter rather than one for the mile of the Classics and Haydock will be his destination before his first major target, the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

“He’s looking super, he’s trotting and we’ll probably start him off in the Sandy Lane at Haydock at the end of May. One run before Royal Ascot,” Simon Crisford told ITV Racing.

“Commonwealth, July Cups – those sort of races we’ve got up our sleeve. The idea of not starting off in the Pavilion (Stakes, at Ascot) is we’d have to start training him a month earlier. Quite frankly, with the weather we’ve got at the moment, we’re wrapping him up in big, thick blankets.”

He added: “He was a little bit on the leg as a two-year-old. He was tall and lanky and never really looked like a sprinter physically. But now he’s beginning to take shape as a sprinter. His temperament is great and there’s so much to love about him.

“He’s done exceptionally well over the winter and fingers crossed he’s got a big season ahead.”

Vandeek is to skip the Dewhurst Stakes and be put away with a sprinting campaign in mind next season.

Trained by Simon and Ed Crisford, the son of Havana Grey maintained his unbeaten record with a scintillating display in the Middle Park at Newmarket at the weekend.

Connections had left the door ajar for him to possibly step up to seven furlongs in the Native Trail’s Dewhurst Stakes on October 14, but after lengthy discussions the decision has been made to end his season and resist the urge to stretch his stamina.

Chris Wall, racing manager for owners KHK Racing, said: “Sheikh Khalid has decided to stick to sprinting.

“We had long discussions last night and that was the way he wanted to go and that is fine, we’re all supportive of it.

“There’s nothing else for Vandeek to run in now so we hope he winters well and he’ll come back with a view to the Commonwealth Cup as his principal early-season target.

“I think he’s all about speed so I think we should play to his strengths rather than ask him to do something out of his comfort zone.”

Ed Crisford is excited to see Vandeek bid for a second Group One success in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

The Havana Grey colt has won each of his three starts to date, with a successful debut at Nottingham followed by big-race wins in the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood and the Prix Morny at Deauville.

Crisford, who trains Vandeek in partnership with his father Simon, is well aware the youngster will have his mettle tested on the Rowley Mile next weekend but is relishing the challenge.

He said: “The Middle Park is a proper championship race and if he was able to win a Group One at Newmarket it would be huge – not just for us but for the owner and the horse himself. It would put him on the board as one of the top two-year-olds in Europe.

“It will be a proper race against proper horses and there will be some new horses coming in that we haven’t faced yet. It is going to be a very good race, but he has gone and won a Group One so he goes there with every chance.

“He is the first Group One winner that me and dad have had and he just has that natural talent. We’ve had some good older horses come through our hands like Century Dream, but Vandeek has that real quality as a two-year-old and that means he should be an exciting three-year-old.”

Vandeek’s top-level win in France came at the expense of Christopher Head’s exciting filly Ramatuelle, who had shown her quality by winning a Group Three and a Group Two.

“Looking at the Morny, it was the championship two-year-old race at the time and a proper Group One – you needed to be on your A game to win it,” Crisford added.

“He got caught in a pocket a bit and the French filly Ramatuelle went for it and I thought we might not catch her, but he put his head down and for him to grind her down was a good performance.

“He is still learning his trade and the Morny was the first time he had to race, as up until then he had done it on ability.”

While Vandeek’s wins at Goodwood and Deauville have both come on testing conditions, Crisford is confident a faster surface will not be a problem.

He said: “I think good ground, or just on the quick side of that would be fine as Havana Grey’s (progeny) tend to go on that. To be honest, running him on the soft ground has just been the way it has happened.

“The way he moves and covers the ground, I wouldn’t be too worried on better ground and I think he could be a better horse on it as you would see that turn of foot come to the fore.

“For a breeze-up horse he is unbelievable. He is so relaxed and that will put him in good stead for these big events. He doesn’t waste any energy.”

James Doyle will take over in the saddle aboard Vandeek from Andrea Atzeni following the Italian’s recent move to Hong Kong.

Should all go well in the Middle Park, Crisford will consider stepping his exciting colt up to seven furlong for the first time for a crack at the Dewhurst Stakes back at Newmarket a fortnight later.

He added: “He hit the line strong in France and I think he would stay seven (furlongs) standing on his head. He is a big, tall scopey horse who covers a lot of ground.

“We have to take one race at a time and the Middle Park is his next target. If he wins and looks like he is in great order, who is to say he is not going to have a crack at the Dewhurst as well?”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.