Trainer Tony Pike is banking on Vinnie Eagle’s greatest asset to help him overcome a wide draw in Saturday’s $250,000 Inglis Classic at Randwick.
The second favourite behind Victorian youngster Boomwaa, Vinnie Eagle has drawn the outside gate in the field of 13.
“It is definitely a negative. It’s always better drawn in than out,” Pike said.
“But he’s a go-forward horse and there are a few first starters in the race that might not have the same early speed he’s got.
“It’s probably his best asset, he’s got great gate speed.”
By exciting sire I Am Invincible, Vinnie Eagle has won his only two starts in New Zealand.
He was spelled after scoring on debut in September and returned with an emphatic frontrunning performance in the Group Three Eclipse Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
The New Zealand two-year-old form hasn’t always stacked up in Australia but Pike feels Vinnie Eagle can make the transition.
“Going on his form, he’s unbeaten in both his trials and on race day, and he’s won a Group Three at home,” Pike said.
“It may be different coming over for a race like the Skyline Stakes when you’re against the best two-year-olds but outside Robbie Laing’s horse (Boomwaa), Saturday’s race lacks a bit of depth.”
Vinnie Eagle arrived in Sydney on Wednesday night and handled the trip without drama, according to his trainer.
He was given the chance to stretch his legs on Thursday morning with race jockey James McDonald in the saddle.
“James rode him this morning to get a feel of him and give him a trot and canter,” Pike said.
“He was very bright.”
The Inglis Classic contains three first-starters, including the Gerald Ryan-trained Smokin Snitzel who has been placed in his only two barrier trials.
Filly Unequivocal makes her debut for Noel Mayfield-Smith following a recent five-length trial win at Rosehill while Tony McEvoy will saddle up Affirmation.
The colt earned a trip to Sydney with a Morphettville trial victory earlier this month.
“His trial in Adelaide was of a good standard and I thought the way he came through that trial, I thought it was good enough to bring him up here,” McEvoy said.
“He’s drawn beautifully (three), he’s got Nash Rawiller so I’m expecting him to be competitive.”