Win, lose or draw Vegas Knight is heading to the paddock for a rest after he runs in the Caulfield Guineas.
Trainer Colin Little has been surprised by the gelding’s resilience after being in work for more than half the year, without a spell, racing through winter and spring.
Little sees Vegas Knight as a potential autumn Derby hope and wants to give the three-year-old a break on the spring grass.
But first there is Saturday’s Group One race for three-year-olds, a race that was not on Little’s radar a month ago, but now the trainer is hoping to go one better than Vassilator’s second placing last year.
Vegas Knight finished a last-start second to Guineas scratching The Holy One in the Stutt Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on September 27 and Little was thinking of spelling him after that race.
“We’re amazed at his stamina and his liking for the stable because he’s still well and I have no problem running in the Guineas because he’s jumping out of his skin,” Little said.
“But he can’t keep going all through winter, all through spring and then go to the autumn.
“So he needs to go out and have a month in the paddock to prepare for the autumn, wherever that may be.”
To offset Vegas Knight’s lack of early speed, the trainer hopes Saturday’s race will be a fast-run affair.
He expects the favourite Dalasan, who has the widest barrier, to go forward which may in turn put some speed into the race.
“I’d like to go forward but the horse is a bit flat-footed out of the barriers,” Little said.
“We wanted to lead at The Valley but we couldn’t, so we’ll do the best we can to be in the most forward position, wherever that will be.
“It’s a good race and even though he’ll look like he’ll be struggling on the home turn, he’ll keep coming.
“He struggles a bit to quicken, but he’s relentless and a very good stayer, we think, and we’re keen to target longer races, but I feel we can’t justify going any further into the spring.”
With The Holy One’s scratching because of a leg problem, Kerrin McEvoy switches from Eric The Eel to Groundswell who gets a run as second emergency.
Brett Prebble, who was to ride The Holy One, is now on Queenslander Eric The Eel with trainer Stuart Kendrick comfortable with the outcome.
Kendrick was aware if Groundswell got a run he would have find a replacement.