After a disappointing start to the year, trainer David Vandyke is hopeful of a form return from his lightly raced five-year-old Prince Cheri in Friday’s Scone Cup 2014.
The French import who had their opening two career starts for Melbourne Cup winning horseman Mikel Delzangles in France during July – August of 2012 has been kept to just nine starts due to injury and setbacks down under.
They arrived here in the autumn last year and looked on track for a promising career down under with the Warwick Farm-based Vandyke after winning their debut at Canterbury.
The next five months however were spent on the sidelines and they didn’t race again until August.
Things looked back on track with a nice first-up third over the mile before back-to-back Rosehill wins including the Group 3 Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) last September.
Prince Cheri was then given a shot at elite level in the Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) where they jumped favourite.
There they were blocked for a run on the straight but still managed to hold on to run one and a half lengths away sixth to fellow import Seville so were far from disgraced despite failing to finish in the money.
Another five month break followed with the galloper coming back at Warwick Farm on March 8 this year for a promising sixth to Boban in the Group 1 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m).
They flopped at Rosehill fortnight later however looking like making a run for the title in the Group 3 Sky High Stakes (1900m) before struggling over the closing stages to drop back and finish eighth.
Vandyke isn’t giving up hope however and rates them a genuine chance in Friday’s $125,000 Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m) at Belmont Park excusing their Sky High loss with a back problem that’s since been treated.
“He had an issue, we’ve managed him through it and he’s good now,” Vandyke told AAP.
“In the Sky High he sweated up and looked a bit agitated before the race and whether it happened in the run or before I don’t know but he seemed fine going into that race.
“But he certainly came out of it with a back complaint.”
Current Scone Cup odds are led by the Hawkes-trained Newcastle Newmarket Handicap winner Mecir ($5.50).
Prince Cheri then shares $6 second favouritism in the markets with Joe Pride’s last start Warwick Farm winner Destiny’s Kiss, so the bookies agree with Vandyke.
“I think on his best form he will be hard to beat at Scone,” Vandyke said.
“And even on his form which shows him 3.4 (lengths) behind Boban and It’s A Dundeel, he would certainly give this a shake.”
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