The 2011 PB Lawrence Stakes may be shaping up as a two-horse affair between perennial Cox Plate aspirant Whobegotyou and early Caulfield Cup favourite Lights Of Heaven, but adding another layer to the puzzle is the Australian race debut of David Hayes’ German import Budai.
Headlining a bumper day’s racing at Caulfield on Saturday, the $200,000 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m), formerly known as the JJ Liston Stakes, attracted a final field of 12 gallopers but there are only two the punters want.
In the PB Lawrence Stakes odds Mark Kavanagh’s multiple Group 1 performer Whobegotyou, kicking off another spring campaign aimed towards the 2011 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley in October, has opened odds-on favourite at $1.90 through Luxbet.
The only other galloper at single-figure odds is Peter Moody’s unbeaten mare Lights Of Heaven paying $2.50.
Further down the Caulfield Race 6 markets for Saturday is Budai at $26, the six-year-old Dai Jin gelding having their first run on Aussie turf for new trainer David Hayes.
To date Budai has started 11 times for five wins and four minor placings, their last run being a second behind Cirrus Des Aigles in the Group 2 Qatar Prix Dollar (2011m) at Longchamp in Paris back in October last year.
Hayes, who is recovering after his well performing stayer Laristan attacked him earlier in the week tearing his chest muscle, hopes that Budai shows good first-up form despite having missed a lead-up run during the winter due to a foot abscess.
“It was a nasty foot abscess so we turned him out,” Hayes said.
“He’s a German horse who has got French form and we all know about French form after (Melbourne Cup winner) Americain last year.
“He has got form around good horses and he has settled in well.”
Facing a tough test for their southern hemisphere debut, Budai jumps from barrier nine with Steven Arnold in the mount and although their form suggests they will be competitive, Hayes is tipping them to peak later in the spring.
The horse’s preferred distance is 2000 metres to 2100 metres, making the PB Lawrence distance a little short of their favoured, but for a first-up run Hayes hopes it will suit.
“It is hard to get a guide on him because he is lazy but I would be surprised if he would win a 1400-metre race,” Hayes said.
“The only imports that we have had that could do that were Jeune and At Talaq, even Almaraad who was Horse of the Year couldn’t do it.
“I would say you will see him hit form at 1800 metres or 2000 metres at maybe his third run.”
As for where Budai will head this campaign, Hayes is keeping the options open and has them nominated for all the majors including the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m), $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and will also put them in the nominations for the richest race in Australia, the $6 million Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1.
“He is a good looking horse and a good mover,” Hayes said.
“We have put him in everything and will work it out as we go along.”
Of the savaging by stablemate and fellow import Laristan, Hayes said it caught him off guard.
“He is a stallion and was just in one of those moods, I wasn’t concentrating and he got me,” Hayes said.
“He lunged forwards at me and, with ears pinned back, grabbed me on the chest and pulled me forward.
“It really took the wind out of me and it pulled my chest off the bone a bit.”
Four-year-old Sinndar entire Laristan was last seen running a game sixth behind Stand To Gain in the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) back in April.
Hayes has him preparing to return with the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups the main aims.
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