The Golden Eagle is still in its infancy but the $7.5 million purse is already making it a race that is hard to resist.
The second edition of the Sydney feature will be run at Rosehill on Saturday and Queensland trainer David Vandyke has had it as a target for his star galloper Alligator Blood for some time.
With such lucrative prize money on offer, Vandyke is confident the Golden Eagle concept is here to stay.
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“It’ll be the biggest payday I’ve ever had, and that’s if he runs third,” Vandyke said.
“I’m sure this race concept will last. It’s made us target the Sydney spring carnival and given us a grand final to work towards for the last six months.
“If the Golden Eagle wasn’t around then we’d probably be in Melbourne.”
Restricted to four-year-olds, the Golden Eagle (1500m) has not surprisingly attracted a strong field of 18 runners and Vandyke’s All Too Hard gelding has not been given any favours with gate 15.
With rain forecast all week in Sydney, the trainer is tentative about how Alligator Blood will handle heavy ground.
“We’re not sure whether the (wet) track will suit him or not, he’s never been on one,” Vandyke said.
“We’re going to need luck from the barrier and he’s going to have to handle the wet track to win, so there are a couple of unknowns there.”
Alligator Blood was beaten by Godolphin mare Flit in the Silver Eagle at his lead up run and Vandyke is wary of her, as well as a few others.
“Flit went right past us last start, so there’s no reason why she can’t do the same again,” Vandyke said.
“Funstar loves the wet, so we’re going to have to be right on our A-game to win this.”
With 17 winners from his past 50 runners, Vandyke is happy with his strong start to the season.
“We’ve been holding our own and a lot of that comes down to my staff and my clients and the way they’ve helped me manage the horses under my care,” Vandyke said.
“I’ve got 38 in work and I’m full. We’ve got a nice group of horses coming through so hopefully a couple of them will prove to be stakes horses in the making.”