Vandeek, the superstar colt, will not compete again this season, with joint-trainer Simon Crisford confirming that the plan for next year is a sprinting campaign rather than Classic glory. The horse’s impressive performance in the Group 1 Middle Park race at Newmarket on Saturday had led connections to consider returning for the Native Trail’s Dewhurst Stakes on October 14. However, owner Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Khalifa has decided that the Commonwealth Cup will be the primary target for the first half of 2024, and they have elected not to step up in trip this year.
Crisford explained that “Sheikh Khalid has decided that he would like to keep Vandeek for sprinting next year, so we will not be running him in the Dewhurst,” and added, “We would like Vandeek to stay at what he’s very good at and therefore there is no need to change anything.” The plan is for Vandeek to have a good winter break and be prepared for the Pavilion or Sandy Lane Stakes before the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.
Vandeek was a best-priced 6-1 for the Dewhurst, and the third favourite for next year’s Qipco 2,000 Guineas. However, Coral has priced up the son of Havana Grey at 4-1 for the Commonwealth Cup following the announcement of the sprinting campaign plan.
James Doyle, Vandeek’s new big-race partner, is likely to be pleased with the decision, as he stepped in for Andrea Atzeni after he relocated to Hong Kong. Speaking after the race, Doyle said, “He’s a pure ball of speed. He didn’t jump from the gate that quick but he travelled super strong and the moment the gap opened, he put it to bed quickly. He’s an electric horse and he coped with the quicker ground well, which opens up all kinds of options. I think he’s a sprinter and he gave me a serious buzz there. Not many horses in a Middle Park go down to the Dip travelling as well as he did. There’s a lot to look forward to.”
The decision to focus on sprinting next year is expected to be a wise one, given Vandeek’s impressive speed, as demonstrated in the Middle Park race. The horse’s unbeaten record and impressive performance have made him a favourite among racing fans, and his future in sprinting is sure to be watched closely.