European stayer … Kerrin McEvoy on board Spillway.Hall Of Fame trainer David Hayes has a novel way for describing the shift in stable approach.
“The Germans got beat fighting wars on every front,” he said.
And despite spending most of the past year sending his horses into battles in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney from the central hub of Euroa, a new season has brought about a new dawn at Lindsay Park.
Hayes’ nephew, Tom Dabernig, is now part of the Hayes family racing dynasty via a training partnership from August 1 and the stream of interstate runners has slowed to barely a trickle.
“We’ve got to concentrate on Melbourne for the moment, but if the right horse can be placed, of course we can go to Sydney because we’ve practised that before from Euroa and we know it works,” Hayes said. “I will do strategic hits, but I want to establish myself to be a competitor for the premiership down here first.
“I’ve been working with Tom for 21 years, so it’s not a big shock to the system, it’s probably just a shock seeing a partnership name.
“I trained in partnership with my father [Colin], but it wasn’t official. The Freedmans trained pretty successfully in partnership, but it wasn’t official. The reason I wanted it in his name is since moving to Euroa I think we might have a better year. I’m hoping we will anyway and he’ll have the benefit of it.”
The first benefit may be in the form of a maiden stakes win for the partnership via either the group 2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes or group 3 Vain Stakes at Caulfield on Saturday.
European import Spillway, a group 3 winner in Sydney during his maiden Australian preparation, will begin his Caulfield Cup fight in the Lawrence Stakes as Hayes goes in search of a ratings boost before the onset of spring.
“All of the good English stayers I’ve had a bit to do with in At Talaq, Almaarad and Jeune … they’ve all been much better in their second prep, but he did a very good job in his first prep,” Hayes said.
“The Caulfield Cup would be his race. He can get in with a light weight and he’s all qualified. That’s really what he’s been targeted for. I don’t usually kick my stayers off until later in August, but I just want his rating to get up before September when [Caulfield Cup] weights come out.”
Spillway won’t be alone in the Lawrence Stakes, which resembles Rosehill’s Spring Preview Handicap, more a peep into the staying ammunition later in the season than anything else.
Comeback galloper Puissance De Lune holds court with Ladbrokes as a $3.60 Lawrence Stakes favourite as he seeks to go back-to-back in the race. That assessment has done little to deter Hayes’ cautious optimism with Spillway.
“If there was a genuine sprinter in the race I wouldn’t think he could win, but I actually think it’s a race full of stayers getting ready for later targets,” Hayes said of his juggling act with Spillway. “It’s an interesting race.”
Hayes and Dabernig hold a strong hand in the last with Gregers, but will be keen to chalk up Vain Stakes success beforehand with either VRC Sires’ Produce winner Zululand or impressive maiden winner Moonlight Hussler.
Zululand struck wet tracks in Sydney for the final two legs of the two-year-olds’ triple crown in the autumn, beating all bar Go Indy Go home in the Champagne Stakes over a mile.
“He’s a class miler that I’m hoping is a [Caulfield] Guineas horse,” Hayes said. “It’s probably short of his best distance, but he’s going better than Fast ‘N’ Rocking and a couple of horses I’ve won this race before with at the same stage.”
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