David Hayes has named Saturday’s Vain Stakes runner Zululand as the stable’s number 2014 Caulfield Guineas hope this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
Now in partnership with Tom Dabernig, Hayes is confident Fastnet Rock colt Zululand has what it takes to go all the way to the $1 million Group 1 BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) on October 11 based on what he did last season.
“He’s the stable’s number one Guineas contender,” Hayes told AAP this week.
A $21 chance in the Ladbrokes.com.au’s Caulfield Guineas odds, Zululand gets the opportunity to firm in those markets with a first-up run this weekend.
He races at Caulfield on PB Lawrence Stakes Day in the traditional Guineas lead-up, the $150,000 Group 3 KS Environmental Vain Stakes (1100m) for three-year-old colts and geldings.
Drawn in gate three with Stephen Baster to ride he pays $15 to win first-up through Ladbrokes, tipped to improve on the run as he steps up in distance this prep.
The Vain Stakes odds are led by two of Mick Price’s three hopefuls with last start Moonee Valley winner Nordic Empire ($3.10) sitting ahead of his Group 1 Blue Diamond second placed stablemate Jabali ($4.20).
At his last start Zululand was competitive at elite level when in his third Group 1 assignment he crossed a length away second to Go Indy Go in the Champagne Stakes over the Randwick mile on April 26.
It was an improved effort on his ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) fifth where he suffered plenty of interference after getting pushed right back early.
Winner of the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington, Zululand has had three previous goes at the Caulfield track for a second on debut, a Group 3 fourth and ninth to Earthquake in the Blue Diamond.
Obviously suited to a roomier track and more distance than Saturday’s race provides, Hayes is hoping to see Zululand hit the line well ahead of his Caulfield Guineas assignment.
The trainer also said however an upset Vain Stakes victory from Zululand wouldn’t surprise him despite the distance being short of their best.
“I think he has come back very well,” Hayes said.
“Hopefully we’ll get nice ground because he’s a different class horse on top of the ground.
“I’m expecting him to sprint well fresh and get better as the races get a bit longer.”
Along with Zululand, Hayes and Dabernig will saddle-up Moonlight Hussler in the outside barrier on Saturday.
The Hussonet colt has had just the one start to date when winning the Listed Debutant Stakes (1000m) at Caulfield back in October before suffering a shoulder injury during trackwork that saw him miss the autumn.
He comes into the race off the back of a third in a 990m Cranbourne trial and pays $13 for an upset ahead of a possible Caulfield Guineas assignment.
“He’s another horse on trial for the Guineas,” Hayes said of Moonlight Hussler.
“He’s probably going to derive more improvement from the run than Zululand.”
Whichever horse wins the Vain Stakes will then be looking to complete the double achieved back in 2009 by Starspangledbanner who went on to win that year’s Caulfield Guineas.
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