Trainer David Hayes has ramped up his hopes of winning a sixth Blue Diamond when outsider General Rippa scored an impressive win in the Group 3 $125,000 Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Prelude over 1100m at Caulfield today.
General Rippa now joins Hayes filly Mama’s Choice as a major contender in Group 1 $1m Patinack Farm Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on in two weeks.
Hayes said that General Rippa had always shown plenty of ability but hadn’t produced him until today because of the programming of two year old races.
“The timing is just right I think. It’s all about the programming now,” Hayes said
“If there was a lot more races in the spring you would run them but there is not that many races to run them these days.”
Damien Oliver settled General Rippa near the tail of the field and bought him into the race half way down the straight to pick up the unlucky Rusambo close to the line to score by a long neck with Ferment one and a quarter lengths away in third spot.
Runner up Rusambo ridden by Kerrin McEvoy was squeezed out in the straight and that didn’t help his chances.
Oliver agreed with Hayes in that General Rippa’s racing style today was what was needed to win a Blue Diamond.
“He didn’t know much about it early and was content to sit back and watch them. It took a nice gap there in the straight and even when he got to the front he didn’t know how to put them away,” Oliver said.
“It’s still pretty raw. He’s a long way from learning what it is all about yet. The extra distance certainly won’t hurt him. His style of racing won’t hurt him. He’s t he sort of horse that is going to race in the second half of the field and be very strong at the end.”
Hayes said that he liked his racing pattern for the Blue Diamond and as a high pressure race you love to see horses that are strong in the last 300m.