Star Western Australian speedster Vanderworp continued his sensational return from serious injury with a dominant all-the-way victory in the Group 2 Triple M Bendigo Cup Final (425m) on Friday night.
Trained by champion mentor Chris Halse and raced by a large syndicate of former schoolmates from Perth’s Wesley College, a number of whom were trackside to celebrate, Vanderworp spent more than six months on the sidelines after being scratched from the Group 3 SA Derby Final last September.
Since returning to the track in April, Vanderworp has now won eight of his 12 starts, highlighted by his sparkling front-running display in the $47,000 to-the-winner Bendigo Cup.
“Three of us made the trip from WA to be here tonight and if the race had have been on a Saturday night there might have been ten of us here. It was just a bit hard for a few of the guys to get the time off work,” part-owner Peter Cameron said.
“There’s 16 of us in the syndicate and one of the boys is going to keep him as a pet when he retires.”
In his second Victorian campaign, having qualified for the Group 1 Maturity Classic semi-finals last July before being struck down by injury, Vanderworp won his Bendigo Cup heat in 23.82sec and started on the third line of betting at $5.80 from box two in the final.
Seona Thompson’s fastest qualifier Big Flood was the $3.60 favourite from box seven, ahead of Bill McMahon’s Bernardo, which started at $5.10 from the five alley.
Vanderworp came out running and held out multiple Group 1 winner Striker Light ($6.10) and NSW visitor Black Forge ($8.20).
Vanderworp broke clear approaching the home turn and kept going strongly to defeat Black Forge by 1.9 lengths in a fast 23.61sec, enhancing his imposing career strike rate to 15 from 27 with his first Group success.
“The confidence levels were high going into the race, as we know how good he is over 450m,” Cameron said.
“He has been running some great sectionals at Cannington and the 425m distance at Bendigo is perfect for him.
“I love this dog and my four-year-old daughter loves him as well.
“I own a few dogs, including Cropduster, who won the Group 2 WA Oaks, and Mandjoogoordap (named after a road in Mandurah), who won the Group 3 Young Stars.
“It’s more lucrative for me racing those dogs, but with Vanderworp it’s so much more fun as I’m racing him with a bunch of mates.”
A superbly-related son of Kelsos Fusileer and High Recall, Vanderworp has now emulated the deeds of his ‘aunty’ Star Recall, which was a two-time Group 1 winner in Victoria, taking out the 2014 Sale Cup and 2016 Super Stayers.
“I haven’t spoken to Chris (Halse) and Linda (Britton) yet but I imagine they will be setting him for the National Sprint Championship and he might even return to Victoria for the Shepparton Cup,” Cameron said.
Other feature action saw the Hip Pocket Bendigo Winter Cup Final (660m) taken out by I’m A Princess, trained by Dustin Drew, the GRV Vic Bred Maiden Final (425m) won by Ashlee Terry’s Hungry An’ Hollo, and the Ready To Race Mid Year Bonus (425m) claimed by Extra Gear, prepared by Ray Henness.
This article was compiled by Gerard Guthrie and Andrew Copley. Photos by Clint Anderson.