Undefeated three-year-old filly Gypsy Goddess is set to start a short-priced favourite for the Gr.3 Grand Prix Stakes (2100m) at Eagle Farm on Saturday.
The New Zealand-bred daughter of Tarzino has shot to prominence under the tutelage of Sunshine Coast trainer David Vandyke, stringing together wins over 1400m and 1600m at her home track, before closing too well for her rivals over 2000m at Doomben last start despite enduring a torrid run.
With a number of the vanquished set to oppose Gypsy Goddess again this weekend, the smart stayer has been installed a $1.35 favourite in the seven-horse field.
The filly has proved a revelation for Vandyke, after she provided no indication of her ability leading into her first start at the Sunshine Coast back in October, including finishing last of five in her final trial.
“She has just kept jumping the hurdles we have put in front of her and quite frankly, a couple of months ago I thought she’d be lucky to win a maiden. Her work was only fair,” Vandyke told RSN.
“We got her into a maiden and she was big odds, she sat back in the field and really surprised us with how she hit the line so strongly and she has kept going from there.”
Vandyke believes blinkers may have helped turn the filly around, but the Group One winning trainer was just blown away by the natural improvement.
“Since that first race start she has just kept on improving. Her work on Tuesday was exceptional so she has really started to understand what her task is. I think she will improve a bit more this Saturday,” he said.
“She switches off lovely and keeps her heart rate down during her work. She is certainly an exciting filly. She should have a much cosier run than what she did last start.
“She got catapulted off on the corner and for a lot of horses that would be the end of the section, they’d be lucky to pick up and finish the race off even. But when she got balanced back up and straightened, she really found another gear and that is what good horses can do.”
Stephanie Thornton retains the ride on the filly, with Gypsy Goddess drawn the inside barrier for her first black-type assignment on Saturday, which is likely to be her last run this campaign.
“The grand final was always this race and to get a Group placing, let alone a Group win on Saturday, would really make her a valuable horse moving forward.
“She will then have a freshen-up at my pre-trainers and then decide if she needs a month off, two months or even three months,” Vandyke said.
“If I am really happy with her, we will consider the ATC Oaks (Gr.1, 2400m) in the autumn and we always have the (Queensland) Oaks (Gr.1, 2200m) up here during the winter carnival.”
Offered through the Curraghmore draft at the New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale in 2020 where she was passed in after failing to reach her $20,000 reserve, the filly was later purchased privately through Doctor Chris Lawler, who got Bob Jones, one of Vandyke’s biggest stable clients, involved in her ownership.
Jones had her transferred to Vandyke and the Sunshine Coast-based mentor is glad that he did.
“I just love the Kiwi-bred horses and when Bob told me about this filly, I was happy to take her,” Vandyke said.
“Bob comes to the Karaka yearling sales with me every year and we have had plenty of success with the horses we have bought.”
Vandyke also had plenty of kind words regarding young Westbury Stud stallion Tarzino, whose eldest are just three.
“She is the second by Tarzino that I have in my stable and they look like excelling over ground,” he said.
“They eat well and they are super tough, so I expect to see him do well as a sire in the future.”