A large syndicate of former Perth schoolmates are hoping to make up for lost time when Western Australian star Vanderworp continues his impressive return from injury in Sunday afternoon’s Group 2 Triple M Bendigo Cup heats (425m).
“It’s a big syndicate of old schoolmates, going back 20 years; we’re all ’97/98 school leavers from Wesley College in Perth,” Syndicate Manager Peter Cameron explained.
“We all decided to get a dog and bought this fella. About ten of the boys are first-time owners.
“He’s actually named after a gun athlete that went to school with us called Steve Vanderworp. Steve was a very quick sprinter and he’s now an athletics coach in the USA. Steve’s from South Africa, which is why Peter O’Neill (race caller) calls Vanderworp ‘the South African speedster.’
“I picked him out of a paddock of eight, so we’re very lucky. I chose him because he was the only blue one! Not everyone likes blue dogs but I’ve had a few good ones. I won the WA Oaks recently with Cropduster, which is also blue.”
Vanderworp, a superbly bred son of Kelsos Fusileer and High Recall, a litter sister to Star Recall, a two-time Group 1 winner in Victoria, has won 13 of his 25 starts; however he was unfortunately sidelined for more than half a year with injury from last September.
“The injury was unfortunate timing because he was flying early on and then missed six months of his prime time,” Cameron said.
“He came over to The Meadows for the Maturity last year and then made the South Australian Derby Final but he had a few little niggling injuries and he ended up hurting his stopper bone pretty badly. Chris (Halse) and Linda (Britton) did a great job to get him back.
“He came back for the Perth Cup earlier in the year but he was underdone. He ran second in his heat and second in the (Group 3) Consolation, so an extra two or three weeks could have made a difference.”
Vanderworp has drawn box one in the fourth of eight cut-throat Bendigo Cup heats and he’s the $2.15 TAB Fixed Odds favourite, ahead of Zoom Out (box 6) at $3.40 and dual Group 1 winner Lightning Frank (box 8) at $3.90.
“He’s really quick over 450m – his first two sections are very good – and he’s a bit vulnerable over the last 50m so we thought the 425m at Bendigo should be just about perfect for him, although obviously it’s a pretty tidy field,” Cameron said.
“I see he’s opened favourite and he’s quick enough to win. He has a good record from box one, so we’re hoping he can muster and find the rail on the first turn and we’ll cross our fingers from there.
“If he makes the final there’s a good chance a few of the boys will head over from Perth. One of the boys lives in Melbourne now and another one is in country Victoria so it would be a good night if he can get through.
“We’ve also bought Vanderworp’s brother from High Recall’s next litter to Fernando Bale. He’s blue too and they’re very closely related because Kelsos Fusileer is Fernando Bale’s father. He’s coming up to 12 months old now and he looks very similar to Vanderworp.”