Vandeek leads Middle Park Stakes betting
Prix Morny winner Vandeek heads Coral’s Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes betting odds at 2/1 in their opening show for Saturday’s Group One race at Newmarket.
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.
Ed Crisford, who trains Vandeek in partnership with his father Simon, is well aware the youngster will have his mettle tested on the Rowley Mile 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.”
While Vandeek’s wins at Goodwood and Deauville have both come on testing conditions, Crisford (pictured below, left) 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.
Options open for Array
Vandeek is favourite in the Middle Park Stakes odds ahead of River Tiber at 9/4, while Task Force is next at 7/1 and looks set to represent race sponsors Juddmonte, with Saturday’s Mill Reef hero Array more likely to wait for a possible tilt at the Dewhurst Stakes next month.
The Andrew Balding-trained Array notched his second win from five career starts in Group Two company at Newbury and retains the option of turning out just seven days later.
However, while no final decision has been made, Juddmonte’s racing manager Barry Mahon raised the possibility of the youngster instead being supplemented for the Dewhurst on October 14.
He said: “We left Array in to keep options open until we speak with the ownership group, but it’s probably less likely that he’ll run and we’ll see if the owners would like to give consideration to the Dewhurst a couple of weeks later.
“We just said we’d leave him in there (Middle Park Stakes) in case there was a lot of rain and the ground came up on the soft side, as he obviously showed he liked that on Saturday.
“He came out of the race so well Andrew just said we’d keep our options open. He’s not in the Dewhurst, so he’d have to be supplemented. Once we’ve spoken to the ownership group we’ll come up with a plan.”
Task Force, a son of two Guineas winners in Frankel and Special Duty, impressed on his debut for Ralph Beckett at Salisbury before landing a Listed prize at Ripon and further improvement can be expected.
Mahon added: “He’s an intended runner in the Middle Park. He’s in good form, Ralph is happy with him and he worked nicely on Saturday.
“It’s a big jump from a Listed race to a Group One, but he’s a well-bred horse and we’re hopeful he can make the jump.”
Beckett has a second string to his bow in the supplemented Sirenia Stakes winner Starlust, while Aidan O’Brien has confirmed Battle Cry and Military as well as Coventry Stakes hero River Tiber as he looks to bounce back from defeat in the Prix Morny.
Middle Park Stakes betting odds
9/4 River Tiber
7/1 Task Force
12/1 Elite Status, Lake Forest
25/1 Array, Battle Cry
View the latest horse racing odds
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication