A capacity field of sixteen fillies will line up...
Co-trainer David Hayes is considering a Mackinnon Stakes 2014 target on Victoria Derby Day for his up-and-coming stayer Jacquinot Bay who races in the Benalla Cup this Sunday.
The Victorian track at Benalla has produced a number of champions over the years including three-time Melbourne Cup winning mare Makybe Diva who had her first start there back in July of 2002 before going on to claim the world’s richest handicap three years on the trot from 2003-05.
The George Hanlon-trained Black Knight also secured the 1984 Benalla Cup – Melbourne Cup double thirty years ago, a form line Hayes is hoping he can take advantage of with Jacquinot Bay in 2014.
This weekend the veteran Galileo seven-year-old races in the Benalla Gold Cup which Hayes hopes works as a springboard to bigger and better things this season.
A winner of eight of his 22 starts to date, Jacquinot Bay is lightly raced for his age and has only been tested in black type company seven times.
His best result was at Canberra back in early March when, on the back of a distant fourth to Opinion when prepared by the late Guy Walter, he won the Listed Canberra Cup (2000m).
From there Walter took him to Albury and the horse was competitive again this time crossing under half a length away third to Canny Ballard in the Listed Albury Gold Cup (2000m).
After Walter’s passing Jacquinot Bay was transferred to the Euroa base of Hayes, who now trains in partnership with Tom Dabernig, under whose care the galloper has had three runs.
After two unplaced efforts he was last seen running second behind Chris Waller’s Group 1 Auckland Cup winner Who Shot Thebarman in the $100,000 Sofitel Girls’ Day Out Handicap (2000m) at Flemington on September 13.
Now he backs up in the Benalla Cup, a win in which will secure a stakes assignment next start and then possibly a run in the $1 million Group 1 Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) later this prep.
Held on Victoria Derby Day, November 1, on the opening day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival the Mackinnon Stakes is an important lead-up to the Melbourne Cup as the winner is granted automatic entry into the ‘race that stops a nation’ three days later.
Jacquinot Bay is not currently nominated for this year’s $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on November 4 but is among the second declarations for the $3 million Group 1 Crown Golden Ale Caulfield Cup (2400m) on October 18.
Hayes however indicated that it wasn’t the Group one on Caulfield Cup Day they were likely to use as a Mackinnon lead-up for the horse, but the Group 3 David Jones Cup (2000m).
In Sunday’s Benalla Cup Jacquinot Bay will be ridden by Kerrin McEvoy who was last aboard the horse for his Canberra Cup win.
“He looks really well placed in the race,” Hayes told racing.com adding the horse had come through his last start second in good order.
“I think this race is similar to the Flemington race and then if he wins that we hopefully can run him in the Group 3 David Jones Cup on Caulfield Cup Day.”
While not completely ruling out a 2014 Caulfield Cup bid, Hayes said it was looking highly unlikely the horse would make it into the starting line-up even if he was re-handicapped following a Benalla Cup victory this weekend.
“He’s just one of those horses, on the big days we’ll be able to run him maybe not in the big races,” Hayes said.
“But the optimistic plan at the back of my mind if he is winning, and only if he is winning, might be a Mackinnon.”
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