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Vandyke stable finds winning touch with Desert Lord

Race-7-Desert-Lord-DSC-2256-jpg.JPGBy Jordan Gerrans

A mix of cross training and being kept fresh has former Sydneysider Desert Lord loving life in the Sunshine State while racing in near career best form.

With in-form Sunshine Coast-based trainer David Vandyke since the middle of last year, the High Chaparral gelding has only been outside the money on one occasion from eight starts in Queensland, for four victories.

The former Team Hawkes galloper added the Listed Goldmarket on the Gold Coast to his resume late last week and will now turn his attention to the time-honoured Weetwood Handicap later this month.

While Vandyke was not overly keen to give away all the exact details of what has got Desert Lord back firing after a lean run in Sydney early last year, it has been a work in progress over the last 12 months to get his body right.

“It has been a bit of a juggling act because I have sort of changed the way I train him, as opposed to a standard horse,” Vandyke said.

“It is a bit of cross training, but I do not like to give away too many secrets.

“I keep him very fresh and that works for him mentally and it also helps with any arthritis he is dealing with.

“He has had three starts for me over 1200 metres and won them all.

“I am not in love with the idea of putting him up further in distance because I think while we are keeping him fresh and finishing off the way he is, we should not need to change anything as he has won a quarter of a million dollars since he has been up here.”

Now a seven-year-old, who has won eight from 26 career efforts, Vandyke was pleased on Friday at Aquis Park in the way Desert Lord showed a determination and eagerness to continue with his racing.

The Caloundra trainer noted that Desert Lord’s attitude gave his team at the stable a positive feeling that there is still good racing to come from him at his rising age. 

The career earner of $441,530 now heads to the Darling Downs for the Listed Weetwood later in September. 

DSC-6287.jpgVandyke is not over the moon about heading to Toowoomba for the first time with Desert Lord in such a hot race and says he may consider making the trip in the coming weeks for a trial or jump-out to give him a look at the surface.

The team behind Desert Lord would consider heading to Sydney following the $150,000 Weetwood if he performed well on September 25, returning to where he was previously trained by the powerful Hawkes yard.

“We will see how he runs in the Weetwood, there is not a lot for him up here after the Weetwood if he performs exceptionally well,” Vandyke said while noting there was no specific races in Sydney being considered.

“We considered long and hard about his next start, I am not sure how he will handle the track, I think that the race is the right sort of event he should be in.

“It is a different playing field down there; it is a step up from what he has been running in.

“We just have to be mindful of that if we are plotting any course away from home.”

A new Polytrack has recently been installed at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club with Vandyke enjoying being able to use all the facilities at the track.

The Vandyke barn has been in red hot form of late, training five winners from just nine starters since last Friday afternoon – including a treble at the Gold Coast on Friday.

“It has been a great start to the season and it takes a bit of pressure of when we are having a good run,” Vandyke said.

Vandyke heads to Eagle Farm on Saturday with one chance – Blackboots – a last-start Rockhampton winner, set to be ridden by up-and-coming apprentice Jaden Lloyd, who rode a winner on Wednesday afternoon at Doomben. 

Desert Lord Next Racing