Two-headed Hayes assault on first Group 1
PREVIEW: AUSTRALIA, Saturday
Moonee Valley: Manikato Stakes (G1) 6f
DAVID HAYES' prospects of winning the Manikato Stakes for the first time increased significantly when first emergency Red Element gained a start in the Group 1 weight-for-age feature sprint at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
A spot in the capacity field of 14 became available when Wangaratta trainer James Fraser decided to scratch last year's Manikato third Dr Nipandtuck who will instead run in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes at Rosehill.
Red Element has firmed from 5-1 and is now favourite at just under 7-2 ahead of Valley specialist Kaphero and Absolut Glam with TAB Sportsbet for the first Group 1 race of the spring.
Hayes now has two live chances, the other being three-year-old colt All American, who is the fourth pick.
Both horses are undefeated in two starts each at the Valley and Hayessaid he was expecting them both to run well, but with a leaning towards Red Element.
"He's the best sprinting prospect I've had since I've been back from Hong Kong," said Hayes. "I think he's pretty good."
Brad Rawiller has been engaged to ride Red Element who has raced six times for four wins.
Last start the four-year-old entire was resuming when he went forward from the outside barrier in a 14-horse field and went down by just a head to Manikato rival Bel Mer in a Listed race at Caulfield on August 30.
"He'll certainly lead from barrier one if he jumps well and if he jumps a little bit tardy he can follow something," Hayes said. "The beauty of drawing barrier one is that you don't have to lead."
Craig Williams' mount All American, like Red Element a son of Red Ransom, has won three of his seven starts.
He won his first two starts at the Valley including the Listed St Albans Stakes (6f)last December.
"Because of his liking for the Valley we've set him for this race and then the Bill Stutt Stakes to keep him at his favourite track as much as possible," Hayes said.
Hayes rated Kaphero as the hardest to beat. "You can't underrate Kaphero. He just keeps doing it and he's so good at the track," he said.
"He's probably as good a Moonee Valley horse as we've seen for a while."