Lucky Liberty will defend his unbeaten record in the 2015 CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington on Saturday and trainer Henry Dwyer remains confident that the progressive galloper is still at his top heading into the Group 3 event.
Dwyer had a good opinion of Lucky Liberty heading before he made his racing debut with a comfortable win at Mornington on December 28, but he told RSN this morning that race was expected to be the major target for the Statue Of Liberty gelding this campaign.
Lucky Liberty proved that his first-up win was no fluke when he recorded another comfortable victory at Sale on January 15 and he pushed his way into Australian Guineas contention with a win in the Flemington Rose Garden Handicap (1420m) at Flemington on January 31.
The rising trainer elected to send Lucky Liberty for a freshen-up following his win at Flemington and he believes that the short break will help the gelding retain his form heading into the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) this weekend and the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington in a fortnight.
“That is the great thing about him, he is untapped,” Dwyer said.
“He has done everything to date on a preparation where we had him set to win a maiden first-up and everything after that has been a bonus.
“It is going to be hard to maintain that level for another three weeks to the Guineas.
“He is a really nice horse and he has done everything right, but we just don’t know how good he is.
“He is really, really good.
“We freshen him up after his last start and he came back about 12 or 14 kilos heavier and that is a good indication that he came through the run well and he is looking better now than he was going into that race.
“I reckon he is probably about five percent lower fitness wise than he was going into that race just because we have given him an easier time since then, but just bearing in mind that the Guineas is the main target.”
Jockey Michelle Payne was criticised on social media for her ride on Lucky Liberty in the Flemington Rose Garden Handicap, but she has maintained the ride on the three-year-old and will stay on his back if he presses on to the Australian Guineas.
Dwyer said that Payne has ridden Lucky Liberty since he performed well in his second career jump out and he feels that the talented hoop has played a key role in the galloper
“Michelle has always been ultra-confident in the horse and she has been with him from basically day one,” Dwyer said.
“He had one jump out at Caulfield where Jackie Beriman rode him when he had a really quiet one and Michelle jumped on for his second one.
“It was a really foggy morning here about 12 months ago and they couldn’t even post the jump outs online, but Michelle came back and said that she wanted to stick with him wherever he goes.
“Doing the form from the jump out later it turns out that Fontein Ruby was in and Lucky Liberty went past her like she was glued to the ground, so from there we knew that we had a pretty nice horse.
“There were a couple of complications in the meantime and it took us a long time to get there, but he is obviously repaying us now.”
Lucky Liberty is currently available at 2015 CS Hayes Stakes odds of $4.80 with Ladbrokes and has easily been the best-backed runner in betting markets for the Group 3 race.