Trainer David Hayes has revealed that talented filly Afleet Esprit could be set for the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) if she sprints well in the 2015 Kevin Hayes Stakes this weekend.
Afleet Esprit worked her way through the grades impressively during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival and she scored a maiden win at black type level in the Listed Cap D’Antibes Stakes (1100m) at Flemington on September 13 before she took out the Group 2 Thousand Guineas Prelude (1400m) at Caulfield on September 28.
The Bel Esprit filly did not appear to run out a strong mile in the Group 1 Thousand Guineas (1600m) at Caulfield on October 11 and Hayes told Racing Ahead that he is considering training Afleet Esprit as a sprinter this preparation and will give her a chance in the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 14 if she fires in the Group 3 Kevin Hayes Stakes (1200m) this weekend.
“I have feeling that if I trained her to be a specialist sprinter she could be a very good sprinter,” Hayes said.
“We might keep her to sprinting, but we might just see how she sprints fresh.
“I won a Newmarket a few years with Primacy and he was a three-year-old.
“Three-year-olds have a good record in the Newmarket if you have the right one and that would be a race I would look.
“She has won up the straight and when she won up the straight in 32.6 I thought that she could be a Newmarket horse.
“We will just see how she sprints and if not we will go out to the Angus Armanasco second-up.”
Only eight fillies were included in the 2015 Kevin Hayes Stakes field that was released yesterday and the field is now down to seven following the scratching of Thousand Guineas winner Amicus.
Afleet Esprit has shown a degree of tactical versatility during her racing career to date and he expects that jockey Damien Oliver will have no problem taking up a forward position on the three-year-old this weekend.
“She got the benefit of a two or three weeks longer spell than most of the horses that ran in the late spring, which I think will stand her in good stead,” Hayes said.
“Her trackwork has improved and I think that she is a pretty good filly.
“It is a small field and Damien will be sitting there dictating I think.”
Afleet Esprit is currently available at 2015 Kevin Hayes Stakes odds of $4.80, while Mick Price-trained Royal Snitzel ($1.90) is a clear favourite with Ladbrokes.