Six-time Blue Diamond Stakes winning trainer David Hayes is in with a shot at a seventh success in the premier race for two-year-olds during the Melbourne Festival of Racing this weekend and has Ennis Hill sitting top of the stable’s four-runner contingent.
The Group 1 $1.5 million Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) steals the show at Caulfield Racecourse on Saturday and the Hayes-led Lindsay Park team chase successive wins with a smart quartet in the capacity field.
Twelve months ago Hall of Famer Hayes, his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig combined to head the Blue Diamond Stakes results with gun filly Catchy (2017).
Catchy was one of five in the field for the stable who also filled third and fourth positions with fellow fillies Formality and Tulip respectively.
“I think this year’s four is as equally talented as last year’s squad which augurs well for the race,” Hayes told the Herald Sun on Thursday.
Catchy was Hayes’ sixth success after his earlier wins as a solo trainer with: Reaan (2008), Sleek Chassis (2007), Nadeem (2006), Canonise (1991) and Mahaasin (1990).
This time around it is another last start winning daughter of champion sire Fastnet Rock that Hayes is tipping at a price to give them successive wins in the classic.
Ennis Hill opened at around $9.50 in Blue Diamond Stakes betting through Ladbrokes.com.au earlier in the week but has since been well-supported by the punters firming into $8.
It is a money trail that Hayes believes could be worth following after the up-and-comer came up trumps drawing barrier four, which has produced more Blue Diamond Stakes winners since 1983 than any other alley.
The latest from the gate was Pride Of Dubai (2015), while Ennis Hill chases a double completed only two years back by Extreme Choice (2016).
Last start she broke her maiden status with an impressive one and a half-length victory on February 3 at the Caulfield track in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (1000m).
She now has her third start on Saturday and Stephen Baster retains the ride, likely to get her up on the pace from the favourable barrier.
“She’s working really well. We put the blinkers on her last start and she was brilliant,” Hayes said.
“From her barrier of four she can use her speed and get a great spot.
“I think she’ll look the winner at some stage.”
The bookies meanwhile are tipping stablemate Long Leaf who heads the Ladbrokes Blue Diamond Stakes odds this autumn at a current quote of $6.50.
The colt jumps from barrier seven with two-time winning Blue Diamond hoop Kerrin McEvoy in the saddle, Long Leaf freshened-up since his Listed Blue Diamond C&G Preview (1000m) success a month ago.
A winner of all three of his career starts to date, this year’s Blue Diamond favourite has proved the picture of consistency and only has to prove himself over further than 1000m for the first time to salute.
“He’s bullet proof. He’s done everything right and the step up to 1200m will suit him,” Hayes said.
The team also saddle-up Enbihaar ($19) and Qaflia ($26), the roughie-priced fillies both drawn wide in the capacity Blue Diamond Stakes field.
History is against Dwayne Dunn’s mount Qaflia who is out to be the first Blue Diamond Stakes winner to salute first-up, but Hayes has faith the daughter of Not A Single Doubt can be competitive fresh.
“She’s going really well,” he said.
“If I’d have given her a start before the race she would have won but this is the best way to go for her to attack it fresh.”
Enbihaar meanwhile is drawn barrier 19, which will become 15 at best with the emergencies out, and is after a third win from as many starts on the back of a half-length success in the Group 2 Blue Diamond Fillies Prelude (1100m) at fortnight ago.