Lindsay Park’s David Hayes & Tom Dabernig have confirmed their improving three-year-old Firehouse Rock will back-up on the short seven day turnaround in Saturday’s Australian Guineas 2015 at Flemington Racecourse.
One of 29 youngsters still officially nominated for the $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) this Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival, the Fastnet Rock colt ran at Caulfield last Saturday on Blue Diamond Stakes Day.
There he ran third in an Australian Guineas lead-up for the second time on the trot when beaten just three quarters of a length by Tony McEvoy’s Adelaide raider Alpine Eagle in the Group 2 Autumn Classic (1800m).
That followed his third when two and three-quarters of a length off San Nicasio in the Group 2 Autumn Stakes (1400m) at the same track a fortnight earlier.
Now instead of the two weeks between runs Firehouse Rock will run on successive Saturdays stepping up to elite level company for the Australian Guineas having pulled through last weekend’s run in good order.
“He’s come through the run very well, he was in beautiful order this morning at Flemington where he had a lazy canter and I’m very happy with him,” co-trainer David Hayes told Racing Victoria on Tuesday.
He should meet the two horses that beat him home in the Autumn Classic last weekend with winner Alpine Eagle, to be ridden by Hong Kong’s Douglas Whyte, and the Lee & Anthony Freedman-trained runner-up Minnesinger both also likely to back-up in the Group 1.
Firehouse Rock has had one previous Group 1 assignment before when he ran a disappointing 11th, beaten nearly 10 lengths by Preferment in the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) during the spring.
He’s down from 1800m last weekend to the 1600m on Saturday though and should be better suited to that distance than the 2500m of the Derby he didn’t look to run out.
“He also might be a miler (1600m) being by Fastnet Rock, that’s what he was originally bought to be,” Hayes said.
To date the galloper has won just one of his nine starts when Nicholas Hall, the only jockey to ride Firehouse Rock to date, guided him to victory in the Inglis Ready2race Sale Handicap (1700m) at Caulfield last September.
It has been a while between drinks for the Guineas hopeful then, David Hayes hoping he can break the spell with the visor on and instructions to his hoop to be ridden more quietly.
“I just feel he’ll be better suited being ridden for a late finish,” Hayes said, after the horse tiered in the closing stages of the Autumn Classic last Saturday.
“I’m not blaming Nick Hall, I would have ridden him the same way last week, but with hindsight we think he’ll be better suited being ridden a bit quieter.”
Despite two good lead-up runs, the bookies still need convincing with Firehouse Rock a $26 outsider in the all-in Australian Guineas odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
The pre-field markets, final acceptances out on Wednesday morning, are led by Chris Waller’s Sydney raider Kermadec ($3.80) followed by Autumn Classic winner Alpine Eagle ($6).
The next best in betting are then WA expat Disposition ($7) now trained by Wez Hunter at Mornington who ran second in his Melbourne debut on February 21 behind Wandjina in the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington, and the Gai Waterhouse-trained winner of that race Wandjina ($8) who is without a current jockey after Damien Oliver lost his appeal against a careless riding suspension.
Hayes & Dabernig also saddle-up Petrology in the race, the Group 2 Sandown Guienas winner over the mile last November at a shorter $13 to win.
The fellow Fastnet Rock colt has had two runs this time in backing up from a nice first-up second to Java in the Group 3 Manfred Stakes (1300m) to finish ninth to Dissident in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 14.
Petrology steals Firehouse Rock’s regular rider Hall who opted to ride the former showing the bookies should have it right.
“When I watched the (C.F. Orr Stakes) live I was initially disappointed but when I analysed the sectionals his job was impossible from where he settled,” Hayes said.
“If you look back to his first-up run it was outstanding, his Sandown Guineas run was outstanding and I think he’ll be the horse to beat.”
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