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By Graham Potter | Wednesday, January 12, 2022

As is so often the case with the David Vandyke stable … when they do strike, they often have more than one winner on the day and that was again the case at Doomben on January 12 where the stable scored a race to race double with Toorooloo and Kerchak.

Kerchak came into a Class 1 handicap over 1650m off the back of an eye-catching, oh so easy, win in a Maiden Plate over 1350m at Ipswich.

That was only the second career start for the son of Tarzino. He had previously finished second on debut over 1200m on heavy going and the steady step up in distance … from 1200m to 1350m to the 1650m, coupled with his increasing level of fitness and race experience … suggested that he would again be hard to beat here and he was installed as the $1.30 favourite with only two other runners quoted in single figures on the betting boards.

But the race itself didn’t pan out as an easy win for Kerchak as the betting had predicted.

In fact, the battle of the final strides became too close for comfort.

As is the norm, jockey Ryan Maloney’s ability to get his mount into a good position in the running again proved fruitful as Kerchak bounded into second place, a position Maloney was content to hold in the early part of the back straight.

When the speed went around him in the form of the $41 outsider Divulge halfway down the backstraight, Maloney just eased Kerchak passed the original leader My Sweet Honey ($51) to re-establish his second spot in order to take out any potential traffic problems and also to have a clear sight of the task at hand as Divulge opened up a gap at the head of affairs.

By the top of the straight though Kerchak had moved up alongside Divulge … and with the outsider now a spent force, Maloney pressed the ‘go’ button and Kerchak strode into the lead.

But this was going to be no gimme.

Rations, the $7.50 second favourite who had been bailed up in midfield on the rail in the approach to the turn, emerged out of the pack running on strongly enough to provide a serious threat to Kerchak, who didn’t help his own cause by shifting out over the concluding stages.

The angle makes it difficult to see if Rations actually headed Kerchak at any stage … it was that close … but, in the end, Maloney rallied Kerchak who hit the line hard to claim victory by the narrowest of margins.

Not quite the comfortable win that many expected, but there was still a lot to like about the way Kerchak responded under pressure in what was only his third career start.

Clearly, he is still on a steep learning curve but, significantly, he has been able to call on his raw ability to put two wins behind his name in a very short space of time.

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Photos: Graham Potter
Photos: Graham Potter
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