Vandeek wows to stay unbeaten in Middle Park

Vandeek demonstrated his class with a tremendously impressive victory in the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

The Simon and Ed Crisford-trained Havana Grey colt came into the race unbeaten having landed a Nottingham maiden, the Richmond at Goodwood and the Prix Morny throughout the year.

He was the heavily-backed 5-4 favourite under James Doyle and left the stalls a touch slowly before being tucked in behind rivals in the early stages of the race.

When a gap appeared Doyle guided him through it and from there he accelerated readily to leave the whole field behind him and triumph by two and a quarter lengths from Task Force, with River Tiber a head further back in third.

“He’s beautiful with a wonderful temperament and all of the talent to match,” said Simon Crisford.

“He’s very fast and very good, but the way he was walking around the paddock with his ears pricked, half asleep, is a great testament to his whole preparation from his breeder through to his preparation as a breeze-up horse.

“That race took a lot of winning today, the Prix Morny was an exceptional race. When he hits the front he does tend to idle a bit, he looks around a bit, but I couldn’t see anything running him down so I was pretty hopeful in the last 100 yards.”

Of the chances of stepping up to a mile the trainer added: “I don’t know whether we need to try to do that, he’s a champion over this distance and I think we’re going to let the horse tell us as much as he can and we’ll take it from there.

“He’s a tall, leggy horse and he stands over a lot of ground, he could easily go further.”

Vandeek holds an entry for the Dewhurst back at Newmarket on October 14, and Crisford will be guided by the horse in making a decision regarding his involvement.

He said: “Never say never, I think the person that will decide whether he comes back for the Dewhurst is the horse himself. If he tells us he wants to come here then we will.

“We came here pretty confident, we knew we had something special. He’s been working exceptionally well and he’s been such a kind horse to go with it, everything was great.”

Reflecting further, Crisford said: “We were second with Jash when Ten Sovereigns beat us so I was scared Aidan O’Brien was going to hunt us down again, but we came here pretty confident and we knew we had something special. He had been working exceptionally well and he is such a kind horse to go with it.

“It didn’t appear to be quite as smooth visually as we’ve seen before. When he hit the front he was idling a bit, but he came here in fantastic condition and we thought he could win and he did.

“It was a little bit (of a concern when he was slowly away) as that wasn’t part of the plan we said beforehand. We said the pace would hold up so we didn’t want to get too far back whatever happened. He has been slow away before but that is him as he is so laid back and he is half asleep in those stalls.

“We can’t keep him awake. He was flat out asleep today until noon today. We couldn’t get him up to come to the races. His mind is so good, which is important as it makes our job easy.

“This is something really special. He is one of the best two-year-olds in the world and has never let us down.

“When you come with an unbeaten Group One winner into another championship race you always want to deliver and it was very important we saw him at his best today. Not just for him and his future, but for everyone who backed him as he was a well-backed favourite.

“This is a Group One and this is extra special. We will only come back here if everything’s the same as today. Never say never, who knows.”

Ralph Beckett, meanwhile, had plenty to take from the effort of Task Force.

“I’m really pleased. He is a horse that we have crept here with, as you can see he is not the finished article by any means,” he said.

“This is a horse that has done it all on his own as we have not been keen to turn the screw on him. I think it is unlikely he will show up in the Dewhurst, but I’m really pleased with what he has done today. He has split two very good horses, so I’m delighted.

“He handled it very well today, better than I thought he would. He learnt again today. I’d say on the back of today I’d be keen to turn up here on the first weekend in May (2000 Guineas) and you might not see him again until then.”

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