Hayes keen on Guineas with Long Leaf
David Hayes has set his sights on two feature Flemington mile races after Long Leaf's successful New Zealand raid to win the $970,000 Karaka Millions Classic for three-year-olds at Ellerslie on Saturday.
Now Hayes is aiming him for another feature three-year-old mile race, the $1 million Australian Guineas on March 2.
If he performs well, Hayes hopes the colt will back up a fortnight later over the same track and distance for the $5 million All-Star Mile.
Long Leaf has just 20 votes at present for the big race but Hayes hopes he can gather support with a good run in the Australian Guineas and even gain a wildcard spot if he could win that race.
Hayes was buoyed by the performance in New Zealand, saying "he had to do it the tough way."
He also said it was a strong field because third placegetter Madison County was a dual Group 1 winner, which included the Levin Classic against the older horses.
It was Long Leaf's first win as a three-year-old but the veteran trainer said the colt had needed time to mature.
Hayes said Long Leaf was set for the Ellerslie race after his third in the Sandown Guineas.
"It was terrific, we've been able to pull it off. He's raced by a bunch of good friends and also my son, Will, has been herelooking after him."
Hayes said he was thrilled with the effort of Redkirk Warrior to come from last for fifth in the Australia Stakes because that was what he expected him to do.
"He's being trained as a miler to get into the All-Star Mile and that's how he ran. That was a pleasing effort," he said.
Hayes said Friday night's Moonee Valley winner Lankan Star had booked a spot in the Blue Diamond Stakes.
He was also pleased with his runners who contested the Blue Diamond Previews, Exeter and Biscara, who finished sixth in their respective divisions.
"They both ran on well and are looking for 1200m."
MILE A BIG WINNER
If the purpose of the All-Star Mile was to get people talking about the concept, it's working in spades. Owners with small shares in syndicates can't get their heads around the fact they could be participating in a $5 million race. That would have been the last thing Urban Ruler's owners were thinking late last year, and they are virtually guaranteed a run. It's going to lead to a surge in prices for tried horses in the future, with syndicates circling potential runners knowing that gaining a start will bring in $90,000 even if they finish last.
Caulfield winner Tarquin's rejuvenation as a flat galloper has left Warrnambool trainer Simon Ryan with a pleasant problem. What feature race will he set him for at the 'Bool in May? Ryan bought Tarquin as a potential jumper, but he has finished second at Flemington and won at Caulfield since blinkers were put on him. "He's always had good flat ability, and now he's got that back he's doing a good job delaying his jumps career," Ryan said. He said he might set him for the Warrnambool Cup instead of the lucrative jumps races.
FELLOWES TAKES SWIPE
English trainer Charlie Fellowes, who brought Prince Of Arran to Melbourne last spring to win the Lexus Stakes and finish third in the Melbourne Cup, is astounded that Australia has 31 races ranked in the top 100. Fellowes told Racing Post that Australia had a shallow pool of talented older middle-distance horses, and Winx was the only horse who could compete in those races in Europe. He singled out two European horses who were not top class - Best Solution (Caulfield Cup) and Yucatan (Herbert Power Stakes) - but won major races here last spring. He added Prince Of Arran also wasn't a top-class stayer in Europe. Fellows did concede that Australia had the best sprinters.
Great run by Jedastar to hang on for second behind Catch Me in the Blue Diamond Stakes Preview for fillies. She recorded a time of 10.22 seconds for the 200m split between the 800m and the 600m which was the fastest for the day. In the colts and geldings division, Brazen Brando produced the fastest last 600m for the meeting of 33.22sec and he was held up for the last 100m. Interestingly Trackus measured Catch Me to run 1013m in winning her division where she ran .09 seconds quicker than I Am Immortal, who was measured to have run 1008m. Stayer Bondeigher produced the second fastest last 400m for the meeting in the 2000m staying race and should be ready to win.
Racing kicks off at Sandown Hillside on Monday where all eyes will be on the two-year-old event. There will be a Melbourne Racing Club twilight meeting at Mornington on Wednesday. Next Saturday's meeting at Caulfield will provide an early Festival Of Racing highlight when gun three-year-old colt Written By clashes with Nature Strip in the Adams Stakes.