Co-trainer David Hayes has revealed that the 2017 Australian Cup could be the long-term goal for Redkirk Warrior following his win in the 2016 Sandown Stakes at Ladbrokes Park on Saturday.
Redkirk Warrior went into the Sandown Stakes as a clear favourite following his impressive Australian racing debut in the Yulong Park Handicap (1200m) at Moonee Valley on October 21, but Hayes admitted before the race that he was a touch pessimistic about the chances of the five-year-old second-up.
Hayes was even more worried when Un De Sceaux kicked clear at the top of the straight and looked as though he could pinch the race, but Redkirk Warrior hit the line strongly and fought off Stratum Star in the final stages to win the Sandown Stakes.
The veteran trainer was delighted to see Redkirk Warrior get the job done in the Sandown Stakes and he is confident that the son of Notnowcato will develop into a genuine Group 1 level horse.
“When Todd Balfour’s horse kicked so hard it made it a real test,” Hayes said.
“He is second-up after a long, long break and it told in the last bit, but he just stuck his head out like a good horse.
“That qualifies him for most good races in the autumn, so we will back off him now.
“We thought he could win, but he was a very short price and he just wasn’t a good thing going into the race.
“He is a Group 1 horse for sure.
“He had awful feet problems, but we have got on top of them and he has the scope and race manners about him that tells me he is a very good horse.”
Hayes revealed after the race that the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 3 is a potential option for Redkirk Warrior, but he is leaning towards giving him a brief spell before bringing him back in the autumn for an Australian Cup campaign.
“At the moment we will probably focus on the Autumn Carnival,” Hayes said.
“We will have a chat with the owner in the next 24 hours because there is an 1800 metres race there in three weeks, which is tempting.
“I think that he has done a pretty good job this prep to get back on the racetrack and if we ease him he will be a star in the autumn.
“The Australian Cup would be a lovely race and the lead-ups to it.”
Stratum Star returned to a semblance of his best form to finish second, while an excellent ride from Craig Newitt helped Un De Sceaux sneak into the placings.