Hayes looks to maintain late-season surge with seven at the Valley
May 5, 2021, 5:11:57 AM
David Hayes, who has 10 wins since the beginning of April, is hoping to continue his late-season run as he heads to Happy Valley tomorrow evening (Wednesday, 5 May) with seven entries on the nine-race card.
Hayes' latest purple patch has increased his seasonal count to 24 following a relatively poor start to proceedings, which he attributes to an arsenal of young and novice horses under his charge.
His promising crop of young guns to prosper in the second half of the season includes the undefeated Fantastic Treasure, who is vying for a spot in the 2022 Four-Year-Old Classic Series, while Ka Ying Spirit, who scored on debut last Sunday (2 May), is one of six first-up winners in Hong Kong for Hayes this season, the most of any trainer.
“Fantastic Treasure has one more run in two weeks; he's thrived since the meet, and if he can win his sixth, he'll be fully eligible for next year's Four-Year-Old Classic Series,” Hayes said.
Although Give Way Please was fancied on debut, he was unable to enter Hayes' list of debut winners. However, he returns to Happy Valley tomorrow night in an attempt to retain the handler's outstanding form of late when he contests the Class 4 Ma Tau Kok Handicap (1000m).
“I guess he's like a lot of my young horses in that they've taken time to adapt – he trialed like a bullet and I ran him off one trial but I think it just flattened him,” Hayes said.
Prior to his debut earlier this season, the four-year-old son of Sebring lit up the track with an outstanding first-past-the-post effort in a barrier trial on the turf.
“He's had a good build-up, though, so I just reset him, and now he will kick off where I expected him to start the season,” Hayes said.
Since arrival in Hong Kong as an unraced PPG (Privately Purchased Griffin), the gelding raced twice, finishing fifth and eleventh last October.
“I thought it was a pretty decent trial performance, he ran second, but my only concern for tomorrow night is if the 1000 metres would be too sharp for him, a lot of the Sebrings are best over 1200 and 1400 metres,” the handler said.
Hayes has taken a cautious approach with the 50-rater after his most recent sprint, ahead of his third start and first at Happy Valley under race conditions.
“Very much so (to the sluggish approach), he kind of went off his feed for a bit and when they're not feeding you can't drive them, so luckily he's eating again and hopefully he'll run better – I think he looks well,” Hayes said.
Derek Leung takes the wheel, and the pair takes off from gate eight against 11 enemies.
Later in the program, Hayes saddles Showina in the first division of the Class 4 Ma Tau Wai Handicap (1200m) in an attempt to win back-to-back races with the Showcasing gelding.
“He made it all the way from barrier 12 and he doesn't look like he's gone backwards; he has a bit of a sticky gate again, but he might overcome that last start, so he'll be rode forward and we'll see what happens,” Hayes said.
Blake Shinn keeps the ride, and the pair will race from gate nine against 11 others, with 133lb at the top of the handicap.
“I think he is a progressive horse; there is obviously more space to move; he was fortunate to be left in the class, but the downside is that he is a three-year-old bearing a lot of weight,” Hayes said.
Hayes saddles Fearless Fire in the Class 3 Kowloon City Handicap (1650m) on the nine-race card; the galloper is aiming for a hat-trick of victories and will break from gate one with Matthew Poon aboard.
Hayes also has Casa Kingdom, Poised To Strike, Kai Xin Dragon, and Harmony N Blessed on the nine-race card.
Hayes does not have a runner in the night's event, the finale, but a classy field of 12 competes in the Class 2 Hok Yuen Handicap (1200m), including Silver Fig (124lb), who aims for a hat-trick of victories.
The Tony Millard-trained grey will be joined by Antoine Hamelin and will start from gate two.
“I like him on the dirt, but the horse is in fine shape, so let's see what he can do,” Hamelin said. “I'm a little more optimistic because I've ridden him for a long time, and I'm more than ready to ride him again.”
Prior to his four victories on the grass, the Hard Spun gelding was a two-time turf winner, and he returns to the city circuit for the first time since December of 2019.
“The race isn't overly difficult, but it's also not overly difficult, so let's see what he can do on the turf – it's difficult to tell, but I think the horse is in good shape, the moral is good, so everything looks good,” Hamelin said.
Hamelin has 23 wins this season, the most recent coming in the second race of last Wednesday's (28 April) meeting aboard Family Folks for trainer Michael Chang.
The third division of the Class 4 Ma Tau Wai Handicap kicks off Wednesday's nine-race card at 6.45 p.m. at Happy Valley (1200m).