Imported stayer Stipulate shot himself into Caulfield Cup calculations with a classy win in the 2014 Heatherlie Handicap at Caulfield this afternoon.
Stipulate missed out on recording his maiden Australian race win when he finished in the placings in both the Silver Thomas Hanley Handicap (1600m) and the Group 3 Easter Cup (2000m) during his autumn campaign, but he showed an outstanding turn-of-foot to return to the races with a comfortable win from Brambles and Marksmanship.
“This horse won like a weight-for-age horse today,” trainer David Hayes said after the race.
“He was great, the pace was on, he relaxed, but he really put them away and was terrific.
“He is in for a very exciting spring.”
The Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) is the ultimate 2014 Spring Racing Carnival target for Stipulate and Hayes said that he has always been confident that the Dansili gelding was capable of competing at the highest level, but he is yet to decide what path the five-year-old will follow in order to earn a start in the Group 1 event at Caulfield on October 11.
“Ollie rode him in a trial the other day and only good horses do what he did,” Hayes said.
“He has just been an unlucky horse that has to be ridden with patience and that is what he got today.
“I think that he will keep stepping up.
“I hope that he gets penalised like mad, which will help his course for Caulfield Cup qualification and if we are happy enough we will go to the Underwood and if we are worried we will go to the Naturalism.”
Dwayne Dunn was riding Stipulate for the first time since he finished towards the tail of the field in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 9 and was impressed with the turn-of-foot that the imported galloper showed in the final stages of the race.
The veteran hoop believes that Stipulate still has plenty of improvement left in front of him, but is confident that he can win plenty more races during the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival.
“He is obviously not ready 100 percent yet, but hopefully that just takes the sting out of him when they do take him longer, so that he does relax a little bit better,” Dunn said.
“If he can show the same turn-of-foot, he is going to win a lot more races than he loses.”
Hayes and Dunn are chasing their first win in the Caulfield Cup since they combined to win the 2006 edition of the race with Tawqeet.