Kembla Grange return for in form Vandyke
Trainer David Vandyke is planning a return to his former home track Kembla Grange, whilst his white hot form streak continues in Queensland.
Two months of the new season down and Sunshine Coast based David Vandyke’s sensational form shows no sign of stopping.
A Group One winning trainer in Sydney, David Vandyke made the bold move of pulling up stumps and re-establishing himself at the Caloundra track in 2016.
As expected, it took a while for David to get used to the new environment but he trained 20 metropolitan and 28.5 provincial winners during the 2016-17 season.
He’s been a top 10 trainer with tallies of 60, 52 and 49 in the following seasons.
But the 2020-21 season is now two months in and David sits behind champion trainer Tony Gollan on the premiership board.
David has lined up 31 metropolitan runners for 13 wins and 11 placegetters for a winning strike rate of 42% and 77% placegetters. Tony Gollan has won 21 metro races from 84 starters for what in any normal season would be considered an excellent 25% winning rate.
The Vandyke stable is even more dominant in provincial racing where his 16 runners have won 8 races (50%) and placed 5 times (81%).
His winning strike rate for all runners so far this season is a staggering 44.6%.
There’s no doubt that David’s decision to reinvent himself at the Sunshine Coast is behind these figures.
In 2016 he had a team of around 80 in work in two barns at the Corbould Park track but after a couple of seasons he made the decision to dramatically cut back his team and focus on quality rather than quantity.
These days Vandyke trains stable star Alligator Blood and the big winner is poised to take David back to where it all started.
David’s career as a trainer began as a 21 year old at Kembla Grange where he won the local Training Premiership in 1989 as a 22-year-old. This title was under his original name of David Hayes, he changed his surname to his mother’s maiden name Vandyke in 2010 to avoid confusion with fellow trainer David Hayes, son of Colin Hayes.
While his 10 years or so at Kembla Grange coincided with some very tough times, he’s excited at the prospect of returning to Kembla with stable star Alligator Blood in the $1 million The Gong in November.
Alligator Blood is due to arrive in Sydney soon for the $500,00 Silver Eagle (1300m) at Randwick on October 10 then on to the Golden Eagle (1500m) three weeks later. Safely through these races it’s off to The Gong.
“It was great memories, though I wasn’t as well back then as I am now,’’ he said.
“I was in one of the first big stables that was built at Kembla around 1988 and Keith Nolan ran the club, there was no big grandstand and he bought the club out of dire straits.
“Having won the premiership there it would be wonderful to go back there and win the biggest race on the track.
“I never imagined there’d be an Everest or a Golden Eagle or any of these races.
“Each year there were the same races and we planned towards them. The Illawarra Classic, or the Brambles Classic it was called, was the big race and I never imagined there’d be any other big race.
“They used to have a Calcutta the night before, it was the biggest day of the year and we were all pretty comfortable with the way things were.
“It’s a different world now. Nothing surprises me now but if you’d said to me back then there’d be a $1m race I wouldn’t have expected it,” said David Vandyke.