Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes is gearing up for a major assault on this year’s spring Guineas and will look to unleash another potential hope for the colts’ and geldings’ Caulfield Guineas this Saturday with Great Esteem.
This week nominations closed for both the $1 million Group 1 The BECK Caulfield Guineas (1600m) for the boys on Saturday October 12 and the fillies’ equivalent, the $500,000 Schweppes Thousand Guineas (1600m) back at Caulfield four days later on Wednesday October 13.
Boasting dual successes in both the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival classics, Hayes is back with a bang this year having nominated for a total of 31 entries across the two races.
Last Saturday he kicked off the Thousand Guineas campaign of a very promising Commands filly Gregers.
Fourth to Miracles Of Life in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) as a juvenile back in February, she resumed at Moonee Valley with a blistering four and a half length win over 1000m from which she pulled up well.
“She’s eating, which is a good sign,” Hayes told Racing Victoria this week.
“She could run as soon as three weeks (from her last start) or a month. I’ll make up my mind in the next week or so.”
This weekend Hayes will focus his attention on one of his Caulfield Guineas hopes in Great Esteem.
A nicely-bred Redoute’s Choice colt out of Singspeil mare Park Esteem, the youngster was a $600,000 yearling purchase from last year’s William Inglis and Sons Australian Easter Sales.
They debuted in mid-February at Flemington when fifth in the Listed Talindert Stakes (1100m) before their close third behind Twilight Royale back at the track on March 9 in the Group 2 VRC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m).
There they were beaten under a length after jumping from barrier 13 (of 16) with triple Melbourne Cup winning jockey Glen Boss aboard, Great Esteem proving their potential to go up to a mile and possibly beyond this prep.
They kick off that spring campaign this weekend racing at Flemington for a third time this time in the $80,000 Margo Harland & Margaret Eades Handicap (1410m).
Great Esteem has opened early $3 favourite for the race too with Boss retaining the ride and the duo to jump from barrier seven of eight.
They will face some other promising types including the Peter Moody-trained Mahican, Robert Smerdon’s Encosta De Lago colt Jade’s Boy coming off back-to-back wins at Geelong and Wodonga respectively, and the Hawkes-trained Saralago.
But Hayes believes they hype around their return is justified and cannot wait to see how he performs after working well during their break.
“He’s a good track worker and we’re pretty excited about him, but I just want to see him do it at the races now,” Hayes said.
“He might be elite at 2000 metres, not a mile but he is exciting.
“If he can put these away, he’ll put himself on track for the Guineas and even the Golden Rose.”
The $1 million Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) runs in Sydney at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday September 14.
In futures Golden Rose markets Great Esteem is a $51 roughie with Gai Waterhouse’s Golden Slipper winner Overreach topping the odds at $5.
Hayes also isn’t ruling an assault on the $3 million Group 1 W.S. Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 26 with his better performing three-year-olds.
Great Esteem was one of Hayes’ Cox Plate nominees this year along with Gregers and Fast N’ Rocking, all three to prove their potential for Australasia’s weight-for-age championships with their Guineas runs.
“If they can win a Caulfield or Thousand Guineas, you’ve got the option of running with ‘40-nothing’ kilos (in the Cox Plate),” Hayes said.
“We’re keeping all doors open at this early stage.”