Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes is looking down the barrel of a crack Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival assault with one of his key stable additions being the Emirates Stakes-bound import Crackerjack King.
Bred for success the former European shares the same dam (Claba Di San Jore) as the Marco Botti-trained stayer Jakkalberry making them a half-brother to last year’s Melbourne Cup third placegetter.
The Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock-owned Shamardal grey was also until recently prepared by Botti from his Newmarket based stables but will now be sent to Hayes in Victoria to prepare for a spring assault down under.
“He gets to me in August and he’s had seven wins from 10 runs,” Hayes said.
To date the most notable of their seven wins was a Group 1 handicap over 2011m in Rome last May where they defeated Luca Cumani’s subsequent Arlington Million Stakes runner-up Afsare by two and a half lengths.
They haven’t been seen racing since their fifth in that same USA Grade 1 showdown in August last year with Hayes now preparing a race plan for their maiden Australian campaign as they come back from injury.
While things are still up in in the air for Crackerjack King Hayes did think they could be treated as more of a miler than an out and out stayer this campaign and would likely target them for the $1 million Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington Racecourse on November 9 during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
“He’s coming back from a minor tendon injury but we’re hoping he might be able to run in the Emirates (Stakes) or something first-up,” Hayes said.
“He’s a Group One horse.”
Looking further ahead Hayes believes Crackerjack King would be even more competitive next year in the autumn features where they would be stepped up in distance for a shot at something like the $1 million Group 1 Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington March, 2014.
“I reckon the Australian Cup is probably the more realistic goal,” he said.
Hayes is also excited about the spring prospects of another of his imports Jet Away.
The Cape Cross stallion, formerly prepared by Sir Henry Cecil, has already had two runs in Australia for Hayes winning both.
First up they defeated Zabisco in the Yalumba Golden Mile at Bendigo before backing up to defeat a decent field in the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) at Caulfield in late March.
“I couldn’t be happier with him, but he’s only doing early training at the moment,” Hayes said.
The spring cups are the likely assignments for Jet Away who pays $26 to take out the ‘race that stops a nation’, the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) on Tuesday November 5.
They’re also in the ante-post markets for the $2.5 million Group 1 BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) in October paying a shorter $13 as the fifth fancy behind crack Kiwi colt It’s A Dundeel who heads the betting.
Hayes named the $300,000 Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) in September, upgraded to elite level status for the first time this year, as a nice first-up assignment for Jet Away.