David Vandyke admits he was stuck between a rock and a hard place trying to determine which race dual acceptor Constant Flight should contest at Doomben.
Running in Saturday’s open handicap would have meant a clash with the smart Meet Mr Taylor, while tackling the Membership at BRC Class 6 Plate (1110m) involved taking on stakes-performed Jonker.
In the end, a kinder barrier draw in the latter swayed Vandyke’s decision, but he admitted the five-year-old faced a tough task to maintain his unbeaten record this campaign.
“Obviously there were good horses in each of those races. It was either Meet Mr Taylor, who was very impressive last start, or Jonker who is proven to be a serious Group horse,” Vandyke said.
“But we had to go one way or the other so it did come down to the barrier but I’m under no illusions, Jonker will be very hard to beat.
“But my horse is very fit, he’s won at the track, he’s drawn inside the danger and he’s got the speed to use his good gate so he will be in it for a long way.”
Constant Flight has established a handy record, winning six of his 11 starts and is $5 second pick in early TAB fixed odds markets behind Jonker, the $1.85 favourite to win his Doomben debut.
Jonker is clearly the class galloper in Saturday’s race having finished runner-up to Everest contender Classique Legend at Group Two level during the Sydney autumn carnival and again being placed in black-type grade behind I Am Excited and Redzel in the Victory Stakes at Eagle Farm in April.
The Kelly Schweida-trained Meet Mr Taylor is also in the red for his assignment, although he will need to overcome the outside barrier to remain unbeaten this preparation.
Vandyke will not be trackside at Doomben having travelled to Melbourne with undefeated three-year-old Alligator Blood who will test his carnival credentials in Sunday’s Group Three Caulfield Guineas Prelude (1400m).
Alligator Blood missed a scheduled start in Sydney when he was a late scratching from the Ming Dynasty Quality last month after playing up in the race day stalls but Vandyke said the horse had coped well with the trip to Melbourne.
The gelding had his first look at Caulfield earlier this week and while Vandyke was not rapt with his gallop, the trainer felt he would benefit from it.
“His work on Tuesday at Caulfield was only ordinary but he came through it well and it was his first time around Caulfield,” Vandyke said.
“He just got a bit lost and I’m hoping that experience will be good for him, plus he had ear muffs on which probably didn’t help.
“I think if he handles Caulfield he’s going to fit right up there and I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t finish top three on Sunday.”