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By Graham Potter | Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Two runners. Two winners … this time at Ipswich!

That was the happy outcome for the David Vandyke stable on October 27 when Wheels and Rapaport gave the stable a double and a clean-sweep on the day.

Wheels, a very lightly raced five-year-old mare, was the first to strike, winning a Class 1 Handicap over 1666m.

The New Zealand bred came into the race after being given a freshen up following a seemingly disappointing effort when unplaced after starting favourite in a BM 62 Handicap over 1600m at the Sunshine Coast back on September 19.

In-between that and the Ipswich start, Wheels finished second to her stable companion Rapaport in a 1200m trial at Deagon in which she was partnered by jockey Michael Cahill … and Cahill then became the fourth different jockey in as many runs to partner Wheels when got the nod for the Ipswich race ride.

Wheels raced in sixth spot in the seven-horse field in the early part with Cahill deliberately taking Wheels back and biding his time some five to six lengths off the lead, a position Wheels maintained until asked to improve, switching out wide, in the approach to the turn.

Wheels swung a full five wide into the home straight and was still five lengths adrift of the leader Kercharmer (the $2.50 favourite) on straightening,

From there, Wheels picked up the tempo … gradually at first and then with more meaning to quickly close up ground from just inside the 200m mark.

When Kercharmer started to shorten her stride at the 100m mark, the followers of Loveisabattlefield ($12), who had tracked Kercharmer, staying closest to the long-time leader throughout the race, must have fancied her chances but, Loveisabattlefield’s sniff of victory was very short-lived as Wheels raced right past her and on to a clear half length win.

This was Wheel’s second win from only four starts.

The daughter of Shocking had won on debut at Otaki, New Zealand, on heavy going over 1400m in a set weights Maiden way back on November 26, 2020.

She then did not race again for nine months and when she reappeared it was in Australia scoring a runner-up finish first-up at Ipswich in a Class 1 Handicap over 1350m. on August 25, 2021.

Wheels then seemingly disappointed on face value in her next run, almost a month later, when finishing unplaced in a BM62 Handicap over 1600m at the Sunshine Coast on September 19, but the steward’s report quickly put that run into proper perspective.

The relevant extract from the steward’s report reads:

‘WHEELS (NZ) – Rider R Maloney reported it was not his intention to lead however the horse over-raced during the early and middle stages. When asked to comment on the performance trainer D Vandyke confirmed instructions were not to lead, and after the mare became agitated during the parade and worked very strongly to the barriers, WHEELS over-raced for the majority of the event. Mr Vandyke added it would be his intention going forward not to start WHEELS at the Sunshine Coast track as he is of the opinion, being the horses home track, this contributed to WHEELS becoming agitated prior to the event and also over-racing throughout.’

Prudent punters would simple have drawn a line through that run, but Wheels was still allowed to start at Ipswich at the generous odds of $5.50 … and, as reported above, this time she raced nowhere near the lead as Cahill encouraged her to settle … before producing the kind of finish that her connections were probably hoping for at her previous start.

Taken all in all, the way she actually settled, the way she accelerated, the way she won … this was a very encouraging performance, although David Vandyke was quick to point out post-race that he felt the stable still had a fair way to go with her to get her to her very best.

“She just gets worked up,” said Vandyke. “Even going to the gates, she wanted to take off. Michael Cahill did a fantastic job. He just kept her as quiet as possible, and he had a stranglehold on her early.

“They didn’t go hard, and she pulled herself into the ground, and yet she let down and really finished off. Don’t be surprised if she goes back to the trails. We’ve got a lot of work to do with her to get her in the best shape possible, but she is a nice mare.”

Jockey Michael Cahill had a precise view Wheels’ run and her future.

“She got a little hot there before the race,” said Cahill. “When I got on her back she got a bit stirred up. She wasn’t too bad. Just after we started, I thought maybe she wasn’t going to settle well enough, but she actually did settle quite well and finished the race off.

"Her temperament needs to get a little bit better and then, I think, there will be bigger things in store for her,” concluded Cahill.

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Wheels pictured at an earlier run at Ipswich.
Wheels pictured at an earlier run at Ipswich.
After her latest triumph, Wheels is now a two-time winner from only four starts

Photos: Graham Potter
After her latest triumph, Wheels is now a two-time winner from only four starts

Photos: Graham Potter
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