Luke Nolen has picked up the ride on Vega Magic, replacing the suspended Craig Williams, in the Group 1 $1m Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Williams had been aboard Vega Magic for four of his last five starts, including a win in the Group 1 $1m Darley Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville during the 2017 Adelaide Autumn Carnival and a win three starts back in the Group 1 $1m New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
The pair also teamed up for a second to Redzel in the $10m The Everest (1200m) at Randwick on October 14 and a last start fifth to Hey Doc in the Group 1 $1m Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes (1200m) at The Valley on October 27.
The Lindsay Park Team of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig were forced to find a replacement rider after Williams incurred a careless riding suspension arising out of Melbourne Cup Day as well as another one from VRC Oaks Day.
Head trainer David Hayes said it was a close call between Luke Nolen and Michael Walker but Nolen got the nod to ride Vega Magic who is the $5 second favourite for the Darley Classic at Ladbrokes.com.au behind Redzel at $4.40.
“It was narrowed down to between Luke Nolen and Michael Walker, it was a bit of a flip of the coin, both very good riders and Wally Daly (owner) went with Luke Nolen,” David Hayes said.
Vega Magic has drawn barrier four in the fourteen horse Darley Classic field and will be having his first look at the Flemington straight under race conditions but Hayes is confident the former West Australian sprinters will have no trouble handling it.
“He is a big powerful horse and I think he would love it,” Hayes said.
“His form for the stable has been outstanding, his only blemish was the Manikato. He didn’t get one piece of bad luck, he got two or three.”
“So he had a genuine excuse, but he did race below par even having all the setbacks in the run, checked, missing the start, maybe The Valley. But he has brightened up.”
“He was very bright going into The Valley. He is a tough horse and I think he will bounce back.”
“You will have to forgive good horses for one run and I think that is the run you have to forgive.”
The Lindsay Park Team will also saddle up Redkirk Warrior in the Darley Classic and the Flemington straight specialist will jump from barrier three with Regan Bayliss in the saddle again.
Bayliss has been aboard Redkirk Warriotr on four occasions for two wins, both of then down the Flemington straight over 1200m.
Redkirk Warrior and Bayliss scored a sizzling win in the Group 1 $1.25m Lexus Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington during the 2017 Melbourne Autumn Carnival and two starts back the big chestnut showed his liking for the Flemington straight with a win in the Group 2 $200,000 Bobbie Lewis Quality (1200m) on September 16.
Hayes pointed out that Redkirk Warriro did run two bad races when he travelled interstate and expects the seven year old to bounce back to his best after a disappointing tenth to Redzel in The Everest.
“He seems to love Lindsay Park and loves Victoria. The only races he has ever run below par for the stable was when we travelled him to Sydney,” David Hayes said
“He is back to the straight, he has had a month from The Everest. His last run up the straight was outstanding.”
“I am pretty confident that he will be in the finish.”
Redkirk Warrior continues to firm in the betting for the Darley Classic is now marked at $8.50 after $13 was bet earlier in the week.