2018 ATC Sires’ Produce Calls for Long Leaf

The ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes 2018 during Sydney’s ‘The Championships’ is the likely major autumn aim for Lindsay Park’s Merson Cooper Stakes winner over the weekend Long Leaf.

Long Leaf

Merson Cooper Stakes winner Long Leaf is NZ bound in January before targeting the 2018 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes in Sydney over the autumn carnival. Photo: Ultimate Racing Photos.

The well-bred Fastnet Rock colt made it two wins from as many starts, backing up from a narrow Morphettville success on debut to beat home the $3.20 favourite Oohood in the first at Ladbrokes Park on Zipping Classic Day.

Ridden by Kerrin McEvoy, Long Leaf only had a nose to spare on the line again holding out the Tony McEvoy-trained I Am Invincible filly Oohood in the Listed $120,000 Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m), the Godolphin-raced Sanglier rounding out the trifecta.

Head trainer and Hall of Famer David Hayes said the Group 1 $1 million ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on April 7 next year was the long-range plan for Long Leaf.

“He’s a beauty this horse,” Hayes said on Saturday.

“I think he’s more of a Sires’ horse than a [Blue] Diamond horse.”

The youngster however was first set for a ground breaking trip across the Tasman to target New Zealand’s richest race, $1 million Karaka Millions (1200m) at Ellerslie in Auckland on January 27, 2018.

“I think I’ve only ever had one runner over there [in New Zealand],” Hayes said.

“I think dad [C.S. Hayes] trained a winner there but I reckon I’ve had just one runner in the Karaka Millions one other year.”

Long Leaf currently sits third on the updated 2018 Karaka Millions order of entry.

Hayes meanwhile won back-to-back editions of the ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes back in 1993 and 1994 with Tristalove and St. Covet respectively.

The key lead-up into the autumn classic over the past two decades has been the country’s richest race for juveniles, the Group 1 $3.5 million Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) contested at Rosehill Gardens in late March.

Hayes prepared the filly Miss Finland for her 2006 Golden Slipper Stakes victory, while in this year’s edition of the two-years-old showdown the stable’s best runner was third placegetter Tulip.

Tentative all-in Golden Sipper 2018 odds for next autumn are led by Performer from the Chris Waller stables, the Exceed and Excel colt having won Randwick’s Listed Breeders’ Plate (1000m) back in late September.

Following the progress of the weekend’s Merson Cooper Stakes winner Long Leaf right here at Races.com.au and for the top summer – autumn racing odds online visit Ladbrokes.com.au.

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