Four-year-old Church Boy has won four of his five starts this preparation, which has taken its toll on the gelding. It now looks as though he’ll miss the 2014 Villiers Stakes, which was to be his first black-type race, with a trip to the spelling paddock on the cards.
After recording his fourth straight win on Saturday in The Grange Wyoming Handicap (1500m), Church Boy hasn’t pulled through as well as usual, with his efforts finally taking their toll on the gelding. As a result, trainer David Vandyke has decided to send the emerging galloper to the paddock for a spell.
This in turn puts Church Boy’s Group 2 Villiers Stakes (1600m) plans in jeopardy, which he was going to run on December 13 in a bid to earn a ballot exemption entry into the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) on April 11 at Royal Randwick Racecourse.
“He just hasn’t done as well since Saturday than he has after his other victories,” Vandyke said.
“I don’t want to step him up in grade if he is potentially on the slide.
“Now is a good time to turn him out, if we look after him he should keep improving and he has done a top job this time in.
“He has only had five runs, won four metro races so we are very proud of him and we will look forward to next preparation.”
Instead, Vandyke will aim Church Boy towards the Group 3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) and Listed Scone Cup (1600m) during the autumn racing campaign in Sydney.
Church Boy has finished in the first two in all eight of his last starts. He began his spring racing campaign with a runner-up finish in the Wests Illawarra Class 1 Handicap (1200m) before going on to win four consecutive races, including the More Than Ready Handicap (1600m).
Vandyke cannot wait for the gelding to make his step up to black-type racing during the autumn.
“The good thing about him is that he isn’t bothered by any track condition, track bias is also not a concern because he can race handy or at the back in the field,” he said.
“I think we are going to have a lot of fun with him.”
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