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Church Boy extends winning streak with Villiers Stakes a real possibility

Church Boy extends winning streak with Villiers Stakes a real possibility

Church Boy is leaving trainer David Vandyke with no choice but to set him for the Villiers Stakes next month.

Sydney's most improved racehorse made it four consecutive city wins this spring with a powerful effort to take out the Cellarbrations The Grange Wyoming Handicap (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

Vandyke conceded a Villiers Stakes campaign was the last thing he was thinking about with Church Boy after he ran a debut second for the stable at Kembla Grange back in September.

It is rare for any horse to reel off four successive wins in the metropolitan area these days but that is what Church Boy has managed since that Kembla loss, virtually demanding a Villiers start.

"If you said to me after his first run this preparation that this horse would be winning four straight including a Benchmark 80 on a Saturday I would have thought that is a bit steep,'' Vandyke said.

"He had only won a maiden last preparation at his first start.

"But when you are in form like this horse is, I'm not going to argue.

"The plan was to just take him through the grades this preparation and he has done that.

"We might have to run him in the better races now. I don't know if there is anywhere else to go with him.''

Church Boy, well backed late in betting from $2.70 to $2.45 favourite, finished too strongly for his rivals to win by a widening one-and-a-quarter lengths from Abbasso ($19) with She's A Girl ($51) a half head away third.

Vandyke is now likely to run Church Boy in the Listed $100,000 Festival Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill in two weeks as a final lead-up to the Group 2 $175,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on December 13.

Church Boy's owner Kevin Maloney of Segenhoe Stud won the Villiers with Ninth Legion last year and Vandyke hopes to provide them with back-to-back wins in Sydney's feature summer sprint.

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Champion jockey Blake Shinn gave Church Boy the run of the race and was impressed by the gelding's dominance.

However, Shinn was cautious when asked if he though Church Boy was up to a Villiers Stakes start next month.

"I'm not sure, whether it has come a little early for him I don't know, but I think he has the potential,'' Shinn said.

"He jumped well and I just put him there (third position) on settling down.

"The race developed into a sit-sprint and when they took off from the 500m, I just played it cool,.

"He keeps taking very big steps every race. He is a horse of the future.''

Church Boy was coming back slightly from 1600m to 1500m and Vandyke felt that might have taken something out of the four-year-old's finishing sprint.

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"I was surprised he was up outside the leader early but he is a versatile horse,'' Vandyke said.

"At the 250m he hit a flat spot but then he dug deep and was strong to the line to win convincingly.

"He keeps lifting and going to the next level — and he keeps winning.''