Champion trainer David Hayes, at Caulfield this Saturday, is poised to claim the Blue Diamond Stakes and Oakleigh Plate Group 1 double for the second year running.
Hayes, who now trains in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig, will have four well fancied runners in the Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) as he attempts to win the two-year-old race for the seventh time.
His hand is three strong in the Oakleigh Plate (1100m) with last year’s winner Sheidel; last year’s Blue Diamond winner Catchy and Fuhryk representing the stable. The Hayes’ team has twice won the 1100 metres open handicap sprint.
The two races, along with a third Group 1 – the Futurity Stakes (1400m) – highlight the six simulcast races from Caulfield, in Melbourne, this Saturday.
Hayes is bullish about his prospects and stable confidence is high after they claimed, last Saturday, the G1 Lightning Stakes with Redkirk Warrior who, like the trainer, was one time based in Hong Kong.
The trainer named Long Leaf as the pick of his four Blue Diamond runners but said that each of them was capable of winning if the luck went their way.
“I’d probably lean to the Coolmore owned horses on top especially with the barriers in their favour. I’d have Long leaf just ahead of Ennis Hill but if she (Ennis Hill) doesn’t get too much pressure up front, she’ll be hard to catch.
“Long Leaf is unbeaten in three starts and should get a beautiful run from gate seven. Long Leaf is a little bit similar in profile to last year’s winner Catchy and, of course, they’re both by the same sire (Fastnet Rock),” he said.
The stable is also represented by the Shadwell Stud owned fillies Enbihaar and Qafila. “Enbihaar might need some luck from the draw but she’s unbeaten in two runs and very professional. Qafila’s also drawn wide and will be ridden patiently.
“Qafila is a powerful filly. No filly has won this race first-up but long term she might even be the best of them and while she will give them a start she will be strong at the finish,” Hayes said.
The trainer said Catchy was entitled to top billing among his Oakleigh Plate runners. “She’s a very, very good filly and she has a great record at the track. She’s never really run badly and you can forget her last run, last year, when she got knocked down in the Coolmore Stud Stakes (G1 1200m).”
“Sheidel’s in good order and could win the race first-up like she did last year while Fuhryk, having run second in the Winterbottom Stakes (G1 1200m) in Perth, is following the same path as Sheidel did last year,” he said.
Ennis Hill will have to pass a veterinary test before taking her place in the Blue Diamond Stakes. Racing Victoria veterinary stewards reported, on Friday, that the filly showed signs of mild lameness in the near-fore and that she would be re-tested.