After an uncharacteristically quiet 2010-11 racing season, David Hayes has re-emerged as a genuine Melbourne Spring Carnival contender, the trainer eyeing off Group 1 glory in the 2011 Caulfield Guineas with his emerging galloper Cross Of Gold.
Hayes has recently set up a new facility at Lindsay Park Euroa northeast of Melbourne, one that he has spent a lot of time and effort getting just right, and believes that with the new environment his contingent of up-and-coming stars will shine this spring.
“We’re in between facilities,” he said.
“We’ve got some nice chances coming up so it’s going well.”
Hayes broke a two and a half year winning drought in Sydney on Tuesday with his smart filly Amaal taking out the Tamara Handicap (1400m) on the Kensington track at Randwick.
Prior to yesterday, Hayes last city win in Sydney had been with Nicconi in the Group 1 The Galaxy of 2009.
With Amaal the first horse prepared out of his new Euroa training base, Hayes was hopeful this was a sign of good times to come.
“Yesterday was my first attempt there under the new regime and I had a good winner and a good second (Encoded in Race 4) there from two runners,” he said.
He also said that the statistics for the stable since starting out in Euroa two months ago were promising.
“It’s been really good, we’ve had I think 28 winners,” Hayes said.
“I had my second best July ever, so that was a good sign.”
Although his success in Sydney was nice it was his Geelong winner that he was most wrapped with, Hayes mentioning Cross Of Gold first thing when asked which horses of his punters should keep an eye on through the carnival.
“The horse that won yesterday, Cross of Gold owned by John Singleton and friends,” he said.
“A very nice horse for the future.
“He was an expensive yearling ($925,000).
“A beautifully bred horse (by Redoute’s Choice from They Say), a good looking horse.
“He had Blue Diamond ability but got shin sore so we couldn’t get him there.”
The now three-year-old Cross Of Gold on Tuesday took their first steps towards living up to their expensive purchase price as a yearling at last year’s Magic Millions Sales by winning the $12,000 Lamby’s Restaurant & Bar 0 – 58 Handicap (1000m) on debut.
Ridden by Steven Arnold, Cross Of Gold was able to hold off the Brendan McCarthy-trained I’m Genuine by three quarters of a length to salute as the $1.55 favourite.
“That tells me he will be a very good three-year-old,” Hayes said.
Despite holding a high opinion of the horse, Hayes said that he didn’t believe Cross Of Gold would get to the $1.5 million Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, but that he would set him towards the $1 million Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 8.
“I don’t think he’d run the Derby distance,” Hayes said.
“I would say (however) he is a genuine chance of getting to the Guineas.”
Hayes has 21 horses among the 279 Caulfield Guineas 2011 Nominations, the largest number of entries of any trainer.
Caulfield Guineas betting is lead by last season’s big name contenders with Smart Missile and Helmet $8 co-favourites, while Cross Of Gold is rated a $41 chance.
Steven Arnold would likely be given the ride on Cross Of Gold, should he chose to, with Hayes saying he was his go-to heavyweight jockey.
“I’m very much a freelance stable,” Hayes said in regards to his riders.
“But Steven Arnold gets the chance for the heavy-weights, him and Brad Rawiller are both great guys to work with.”
Hayes also named Dwayne Dunn as one of his favourite hoops.
“I have had a great relationship with Dwayne over the years, I think I’ve trained most of his Group 1 winners,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to stay with stable riders as there’s owners that don’t like certain jockeys and they pay the bills.
“Everyone has an opinion these days.
“If it was just the trainer and the jockey it would work out I think, but unfortunately the horses are owned by people.
“I would rather put on the jockey the owner likes and 90 per cent of the time I’m pretty relaxed with that.
“I think most of the jockeys will do the right thing if you give them the right horse.”
Other “right” horses of Hayes that he is expecting good things from this season are proven stayer Laristan and veteran sprinter Eagle Falls.
Sinndar four-year-old Laristan, an Irish import that joined Hayes in November of last year, won their opening three races in Europe but so far in Australia has had just one win from six starts.
They were thereabouts during the autumn in Sydney, however, Laristan running a close fifth to Cedarberg in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) and then sixth to Stand To Gain in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) in April.
Laristan will kick off this preparation on Saturday at Caulfield in a 1600 metre handicap.
“I think as a stayer Laristan has emerged,” Hayes said.
“He’s really impressing me.”
Eagle Falls is another exciting prospect looking towards the spring sprints, the Hussonet six-year-old having won the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield back in February.
Nominated for the $100,000 Listed Regal Roller Stakes (1200m), Eagle Falls is also set to resume for the stable at Caulfield on Saturday.
“Eagle Falls will run a good race on Saturday but he’ll be improved,” Hayes said.
“He’ll be peaking three in by the Group 1.
“I think there’s a good race in Eagle Falls.”
The Group 1 race Hayes refers to is the $1 million Group 1 Patinack Farm Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day, Saturday November 5.
Last year Eagle Falls raced in the Patinack but finished dead last, beaten 13 lengths by superstar sprinter Black Caviar.
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