Visitor’s draw for Vinnie Eagle in Sydney feature

Ruud Awakening copped it in the Golden Slipper and now another smart Cambridge two-year-old Vinnie Eagle has been delivered the same obstacle.

I’m talking about the outside barrier draw, or the “visitor’s draw” as it’s so often called. Ruud Awakening never got into the action in last April’s Golden Slipper Stakes after beginning from 16 of 16, but Tony Pike, the co-trainer of Vinnie Eagle, isn’t letting that fact put him off the chances of his unbeaten colt in the A$250,00 Inglis Classic at Randwick tomorrow.

The barrier draw for the Sydney event was made before Vinnie Eagle left his Cambridge stable and Pike didn’t hesitate putting his charge on the plane yesterday, despite drawing the outside barrier in the 13-horse field.

“I know it’s not the best draw but there’s a lot of speed in the race and hopefully he’ll get across,” said Pike.

“Boomwaa is brilliant and he will probably lead from his draw. We’ll be going forward and James (McDonald) will be looking to slot him in somewhere near the pace.”

The Robbie Laing-trained Boomwaa has the number two draw and will be ridden by Hugh Bowman, who takes over the reins from his last two riders, Vlad Duric and Blake Shinn.

“Boomwaa and Vinnie Eagle are the two winners in the race and Boomwaa does look the one to beat,” said Pike. “He won the Maribyrnong Plate and was a good second to Fighting Sun at Rosehill last start.”

Pike is thrilled to have McDonald aboard Vinnie Eagle, though he had no shortage of requests from jockeys’ agents chasing up the ride. One of those “chasers” was actually Bowman’s agent so that puts another slant on Boomwaa’s prospects.

Vinnie Eagle is unbeaten in four public appearances. He was a trials winner before scoring on debut at Ruakaka last September then won a further trial as a lead-up to the Gr. 3 Barneswood Farm Eclipse Stakes, which he won impressively at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.

McDonald was aboard fourth-placed Dragon Lair in the Eclipse Stakes so got a good taste of Vinnie Eagle’s talent. “It’s good that James has seen the horse and knows how well he goes,” said Pike. “He’s also had a talk to Leith (Innes) about him.”

Innes has been Vinnie Eagle’s regular rider but commitments at Trentham tomorrow, including stablemate Waterford in the Gr. 1 J. & N. Berkett Telegraph Handicap, caused the change of rider.

Vinnie Eagle is making a hit-and-run raid on the Inglis Classic but that doesn’t mean he won’t be returning to Sydney.

“At this stage he’s coming back on Monday or Tuesday and we’ll assess what to do with him when he gets home,” said Pike. “If he won exceptionally well over there we might consider going back over.

“I’ll see what James thinks and how he feels the horse will fit in racing again the likes of Gai’s good two-year-olds and so on.

“If it doesn’t look like he’ll be suited we’ve got some options back here, like the Diamond Stakes and the Sires’ Produce Stakes.”