Connections of lightly-raced filly Choice Words have pinned their hopes on apprentice Blake Spriggs in Saturday’s Group One Flight Stakes.
Along with Kiwi whiz-kid James McDonald, the young rider is one of only two apprentices entrusted with a mount at the bumper Super Saturday meeting, the pinnacle of Sydney’s spring carnival.
While McDonald has rides in five races, including Group One mounts aboard Sangster in the Spring Champion Stakes (2000m) and Shadow West in the Flight (1600m), Spriggs will head to Randwick solely to partner Choice Words.
“We’ve had an association with him (Spriggs) through Hidden Gem, another horse the owners have that’s won back-to-back Saturday races recently,” trainer David Vandyke said.
“He was really enthusiastic about riding her and he’s also a good friend of the owners and a good friend of mine so we’ll keep it in the family.”
Choice Words is part-owned by Terry and Wendy Mullens who were instrumental in helping Vandyke resurrect his training career.
“Terry and Wendy, they had the faith to help me pick a yearling out at the Easter sales last year,” Vandyke said.
“It was the only horse I got so for her to come out this year and be stakes-placed is terrific for all of us.”
Vandyke trained years ago when he was known as David Hayes before getting out of racing to pursue other interests.
He subsequently changed his name to avoid confusion with the Hall Of Fame trainer and his comeback journey has so far been a heady one.
Lamasery, who will tackle the Group One Metropolitan (2400m) on Saturday as long as the track is a slow (6) or better, has been his stable star but both Hidden Gem and now Choice Words have proved able supports.
“I started back training last year and I didn’t have any horses,” Vandyke said.
“To have had such a good year so far is fantastic and it’s just great to have the opportunity to have horses racing on this type of day.
“What happens, happens. I’m pretty philosophical about how they run, where they run, I’m not pinning my hopes on getting a Group One success.
“But at the same time it would be a dream to win one of these races.
“These are the only two horses I’ve got racing at the moment.”
Choice Words has finished runner-up at her only two starts, to Flight Stakes rival Shadow West on debut at Canterbury and Disputes in last weekend’s Reginald Allen.
Vandyke knows she faces a steep rise in class but says what she lacks in experience she makes up for in heart.
“I was a bit nervous about how she would recover after her hard run (last start) but she’s a tough filly and she looks better now than she did before that race,” Vandyke said.
“It’s a big step up in class and she’s up in weight but she is a real trier and she doesn’t know how to lie down.”