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Veandercross


Veandercross is a New Zealand bred Thoroughbred gelding who raced extensively in Australia. He was awarded the title of Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year for the 1992-1993 season.

Veandercross was a brown, rangy type of gelding that was foaled on 14 October 1988. He was by Crossways (GB), out of the unraced mare Lavender, who was in turn a daughter of the moderate sire Super Gray (USA). His family had produced very few stakes winners. The only interesting thing about his pedigree was the fact that he was inbred 3x3 to champion racehorse and sire Nijinsky.

Contents

Racing career

He was initially trained by his part-owner Chris Turner out of the small provincial racing centre of Wanganui in New Zealand. This would later give rise to his nickname - "The Wanganui Wonder." He was usually ridden by jockey Jim Walker.

Veandercross showed immediate promise as a young horse in the 1991-1992 racing season. As a three-year-old in New Zealand, he won the New Zealand 2000 Guineas and the Bayer Classic (now called the LvRC Classic) - both group 1 races over 1,600 metres. He also ran an unlucky second to Cavallieri in the New Zealand Derby at Ellerslie.

In these races, he displayed what would become his characteristic come-from-behind style of racing. This racing style also made it more likely that he would encounter trouble in the run, and he would often be described as "unlucky in defeat." It also created the impression that he would be better suited over a longer journey - an impression that may have been misleading.

Three-year-old races in Australia

Given the immense promise he had shown in New Zealand, it was decided to send Veandercross to Australia for the autumn racing carnival in Sydney. In Australia, he would be trained by John Wheeler, of Rough Habit fame. On his Australian debut, he put in one of his "unlucky" closing efforts in defeat in the Gosford Guineas over 1,600 metres. He would show his true ability at his next start in the Canterbury Guineas over 1,900 metres, where his opponents included the best three year old in Australia, Naturalism. At Canterbury, Veandercross came from last of about 20 runners on a tight-turning track to win. Naturalism was second. Next time out, Naturalism and Veandercross again faced each other in the Rosehill Guineas over 2,000 metres. Veandercross started favourite, and again dropped out to last and ran on strongly, but he encountered interference in the straight, and Naturalism was able to hang on to score a narrow victory. Naturalism and Veandercross again met in the AJC Australian Derby over 2,400 metres, which would be the decider as to who was the best three year old in Australasia. Again, Veandercross ran on from well back, and again he lost, although this time the cause was not interference. Rather, Naturalism outstayed him in the final stretch. The horse who had beaten Veandercross in the New Zealand Derby, Cavallieri, was third.

Four-year-old racing season

Veandercross returned an even better horse as a four year old. After two races in New Zealand, he was sent to Australia to start favourite in the Caulfield Cup. On Cup day the Caulfield track was an absolute bog. In one of the most controversial rides in Australian racing history, champion jockey Shane Dye went extremely wide on the home turn to avoid the slow, muddy ground on the inside. Despite covering this extra ground, Veandercross managed to pass every runner in the straight except one, the talented mare Mannerism, who won in a photo finish after hugging the inside rail. Shane Dye was widely criticised for his ride, but he defended himself, insisting that the extra ground he covered on the horse was more than made up for by the firmer ground he raced on as a result. Nevertheless, the criticism persisted, and recreations of the horse's journey in the race showed that he covered barely less than 2,500 metres, in what was supposed to be a 2,400 metre race.[1]

At his next start, Veandercross won the group 1 Mackinnon Stakes at Flemington, overcoming interference to win emphatically. This would be his last prep race before the Melbourne Cup three days later, a race in which would start favourite. It was again a wet track, and although Veandercross ploughed home determinedly, he could not catch the wet track stayer Subzero in the straight. So Veandercross finished his campaign with the frustrating record of having run second in both the major Cups races.

Veandercross returned as an autumn four-year-old, winning the Lion Brown Sprint in New Zealand, and then the Carlyon Cup and the Australian Cup in Melbourne. He then travelled north to Sydney where he would face his old rival Naturalism in the Rawson Stakes. In the meantime, Naturalism had franked their three year old form internationally by running second in the Japan Cup in the spring. In the Rawson, Veandercross was superior, winning by over a length and cementing his position as the best racehorse in Australasia. However, Veandercross suffered defeat at his next start in the group 1 The BMW at Rosehill, running third to three year old Kaaptive Edition, and his stablemate Rough Habit. His overall record showed that he was not a stayer, but a middle distance horse, at his best between 1,400 and 2,000 metres. Veandercross confirmed his supremacy within this distance range at his next start, winning the Queen Elizabeth Stakes over 2,000 metres at Randwick impressively.

This rounded off an excellent four year old season, which had netted 5 group 1 victories. At the end of the 1992-1993 racing season, he was deservedly crowned Australian Champion Racehorse of the Year.

Unsuccessful five year old campaign

Expectations were high when Veandercross returned to racing as a 5 year old, but his formed dropped off. He contested races such as the Cox Plate unsuccessfully, being beaten by many of the horses over whom he had been dominant the previous season. Unable to win at weight-for-age, and weighted out of handicaps, the decision was soon made to retire Veandercross after he incurred an injury.

Veandercross will be remembered as a top-quality middle distance horse, who rose from humble origins to be the dominant weight-for-age racehorse in Australasia. He will also be remembered for his rivalry with Naturalism, and for having run second in the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups in 1992 - the latter loss occurring after a notoriously controversial ride by the jockey Shane Dye.

At the conclusion of his racing career, his record stood at 36 starts for 15 wins, 9 seconds and 4 thirds, and earnings of AUD$2,602,524. He won eight times at Group One level.[2]

References

  1. The Age - Caulfield Cup Retrieved on 2009-7-20
  2. ASB - Veandercross (NZ) Retrieved on 2009-7-20




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