Trainer David Hayes has admitted he dropped the ball with Zululand’s spring racing campaign after deciding to remove the colt’s blinkers.
“We took the blinkers off him this preparation and I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” Hayes told Sky Racing.
“We thought he might settle him more, but he’s a colt that we think needs them.”
The Fastnet Rock colt raced in blinkers earlier this year, taking out the Group Two Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington Racecourse in March by one and a half lengths.
He then travelled to Sydney where he raced in gear to a decently ran fifth finish in the Group One ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) followed by a runner-up finish to Go Indy Go in the Group 1 Champagne Stakes (1600m), in which he showed more speed.
It was after this that Hayes decided to remove Zululand’s blinkers.
What followed was a luckless first-up fifth in the Group Three Vain Stakes (1100m) on August 16, followed by a seventh in his three subsequent runs, including the Group 2 Bill Stutt Stakes (1600m) at Moonee Valley his last time out, but Hayes is confident the colt can put it behind him.
“Just forget the Valley. He’ll appreciate a fast-run race and it might spark a bit of improvement in him,” Hayes said.
Despite the big price, Zululand has an ideal draw (3) for the 2014 Caulfield Guineas with champion jockey Damien Oliver to ride and Hayes believes the colt is on par with Chivalry who is paying $13.
“They finished together (at Moonee Valley) off the slow tempo,” he concluded.
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