Vandeek remains very much on course for the Commonwealth Cup after losing his flawless record on seasonal debut in the Sandy Lane at Haydock.

Simon and Ed Crisford’s Havana Grey colt was unstoppable as a juvenile, winning all four starts including two Group 1 titles in the Prix Morny and the Middle Park.

Making his three-year-old bow at Haydock, he was sent off the 8/11 favourite for the Sandy Lane, carrying both a penalty and the weighty reputation of his prior successes.

Under James Doyle he took on six rivals, and on soft ground he came home third as the race went to Kevin Ryan’s Inisherin – who had been sixth in the 2000 Guineas – with John and Thady Gosden’s Orne the runner-up.

Though his was quite a scalp to take for the latter two horses, Vandeek is faring well following the run and is on track to line up at Royal Ascot.

Pleasing work

“He’s come out of the race very well, Simon and Ed Crisford have been pleased with his work since and it’s all systems go for the Commonwealth Cup,” said Chris Wall, racing manager to owners KHK Racing.

“It was very soft ground at Haydock and though he has encountered that before, he was against race-fit rivals on his first run of the season and his legs just couldn’t act on it.

“That was the purpose of the run and he’s in good form afterwards, we’re excited to run him at Royal Ascot.”

KHK Racing also own Sakheer, a Roger Varian-trained colt who impressed as a juvenile when winning the Mill Reef at Newbury.

Things have not gone entirely smoothly since, however, and in two runs last year he was well beaten in both the 2000 Guineas and the Commonwealth Cup with a large absence after the latter run.

Lengthy absence

He returned from that 337-day break to contest the Listed Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury late last month, finishing last of the six contenders.

The four-year-old has since been scoped and the cause of that disappointing run found, and he will now undergo treatment before connections go back to the drawing board.

“He actually scoped very dirty after that run, he had been working well beforehand so it was disappointing at the time,” said Wall.

“Now we have a perfectly good explanation, he will undergo treatment and then when we have him back healthy and hearty we will find something for him – how long that takes, I’m not sure.

“We will move on to plan Z! Realistically we are on about plan G with this horse, but at least we have a reason for his run last time out.”