Colin Little has not lost faith in Vegas Knight despite what looks on paper to be some disappointing recent form.
The Caulfield trainer is expecting to see the Vegas Knight he knows when the three-year-old runs in the Neds Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
Little holds Vegas Knight in high regard despite the fact he has only won one race, so much so he was at one stage planning to take him to Sydney for Saturday’s Australian Derby at Randwick.
A few minor setbacks early in Vegas Knight’s preparation ended those plans and instead Little is looking at next month’s South Australian Derby at Morphettville.
Vegas Knight ran second in the Bill Stutt Stakes at The Valley and seventh in the Caulfield Guineas to close out his spring campaign and Little and his co-owners were looking forward to the autumn.
His preparation started well with a closing fourth over an unsuitable 1200m at The Valley before a disappointing run at Flemington over 1400m on March 7.
In the Mornington Guineas two weeks later. Vegas Knight beat only one runner home, but Little said the performance should be disregarded.
“We told the rider (Teodore Nugent) to go back from a wide draw, not to go around them on the turn and try to slice through them,” Little said.
“Unfortunately he didn’t see any daylight.”
Little is pleased with the rain that fell in Melbourne on Wednesday and Thursday nights, pushing the Caulfield track into the heavy range.
“He ideally needs further, but a $135,000 mile race it’s hard to ignore and and I’m not too worried about the track. I think it might be an advantage actually,” Little said.
“He’s shown a liking for it before and it should be fair racing.”
Saturday’s performance will determine Vegas Knight’s path to the South Australian Derby.
Little is mindful that if he sends Vegas Knight to Adelaide he cannot send any staff and will need to rely on the help of a trainer there amid coronavirus restrictions on interstate travel.
The programming of races in Victoria may force Little to send Vegas Knight to Adelaide early to contest a lead-up race.
“Previously there have been no obvious lead-up races here to the South Australian Derby, so we’ll get over tomorrow first and work it out from there,” he said.