Trainer David Hayes is confident that talented colt Zululand will perform well when he makes his Group 1 debut in the 2014 Sires Produce Stakes at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Zululand made his racing debut with a second place finish behind the talented Nordic Empire in the Flemington Equine Clinic Plate (1000m) at Caulfield on November 30 and had no luck in the Group 3 Chairman’s Stakes (1100m) at the same venue on February 1 before finishing ninth in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) on February 22.
The Fastnet Rock colt relished the step-up to 1400 metres in the Group 2 Henry Bucks Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on March 8 and according to Hayes has trained on strongly; winning a trial at Royal Randwick on Friday in comfortable fashion.
“He won the Sires very well and he has trialed very well up here,” Hayes told TVN.
“He is really well; he was very happy with a lazy piece of work this morning.
“He is a talented young horse, he ran second in his first start, but he is a horse that has been crying out for 1400 or a mile.
“If he handles the ground, it will probably be more like a mile, which is in his favor.
“We are hoping for a good run.”
Hayes is confident that Zululand will have no problem adjusting to the Sydney way of racing in the Sires Produce Stakes on Saturday, but the veteran trainer admits that he is concerned by the prospect of a heavy track; with plenty of rain forecast in Sydney this weekend.
“He settled in very well,” Hayes said.
“He had a lot of practice on his Sydney leg at Lindsay Park so I am not concerned about him handling this way of going.
“My main concern is what he would be like if it is really heavy
“He has never been tested on wet ground, but his trial was wet enough and he won it.”
Hayes is chasing his third win in the Sires Produce Stakes after previously winning the race with Tristalove in 1993 and St.Covet in 1994.
Zululand is currently available at 2014 Sires Produce Stakes odds of $12; with Believe Yourself ($3.80) currently a narrow favourite from Peggy Jean ($4.80), Kumaon ($6), Lucky Raquie ($6.50) and Time For War ($9).