Yankee Rose has already done things against the norm in her short career and the next chapter will be to try to break a 40-year hoodoo in the country’s premier weight-for-age race.
The last start Group One Spring Champion Stakes winner takes on champion mare Winx and a stellar line-up in Saturday’s $3 million Cox Plate at Moonee Valley striving to become just the second filly to win the race.
Surround in 1976 is the only three-year-old filly to have achieved the feat .
“No filly had won the Champion Stakes, so she is a mould breaker,” Yankee Rose’s trainer David Vandyke said.
That she is, under the guidance of Vandyke.
The trainer defied convention by taking the filly to the Golden Slipper earlier this year at her first run from a spell.
She almost won, denied only by star juvenile Capitalist.
She then convincingly won the Group One Sires’ Produce Stakes.
To start her three-year-old season, Vandyke again went against the norm by setting the filly for the Group One Golden Rose (1400m) first-up.
Things didn’t go the plan and she finished sixth after leading, but Yankee Rose then finished strongly for second in the Group One Flight Stakes and backed up a week later to win the Spring Champion over 2000m.
Vandyke admitted he felt the pressure heading into the Spring Champion, but says that’s off going into the Cox Plate against Winx and Hartnell.
“They’d want to be on their A-game because I think our filly is,” he said.
“And the pressure is off. She won a Group One last start. We’re going in as an underdog and we’re just looking forward to enjoying the ride.”
That ride has already been a terrific one for the filly’s connections.
“To have a horse run in the Golden Slipper and Cox Plate in the one year is pretty amazing, and to knock off a couple of Group Ones in between, it’s just been a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of us and we’re really enjoying it,” Vandyke said.
Her Spring Champion Stakes jockey Dean Yendall will ride Yankee Rose in the Cox Plate at 47.5kg , 9.5kg less than odds-on favourite Winx and 11.5kg less than second favourite Hartnell.
It’s also 7kg less than she carried in the Spring Champion Stakes.
“So she won’t even know she’s got a jockey on her back,” Yendall said.
After riding Yankee Rose in a gallop at Moonee Valley on Saturday, Yendall said his weight was around 48kg.
“Plenty of fruit and vegies, unfortunately no chocolate and chips,” he said.
“I’m feeling healthy, fit and hopefully all going well, we’ll get the chocolates.”