Hayes expecting Size to crank it up again
Dual Hong Kong championship-winning trainer David Hayes landed a betting plunge, racked up a winning treble to move even more decisively to second on the rankings then lamented it was not really good enough.
Hayes won the griffin event with Always Welcome, the fourth with Good Win and then added consistent stayer Songs Of Praise to take him to 42 wins for the term, but still trailing John Size by 11 wins at day's end.
'It shows how hard it is against him - I'm having a purple patch of form and I think I've trained at a winning rate of better than 16 per cent for the past month but I'm still not making an impression,' Hayes conceded, though he has whittled down Size's considerable lead at the start of March.
'At the moment, his stable is going through a quiet spell, but I'm wary of the kick he has to come. It is like one of those horses that gets a soft lead in a race - just steadying and conserving energy while I'm making ground, then he'll be ready to shoot clear again when I get up close to him. Even if I got level I wouldn't be confident that I could keep going to beat him.'
Craig Williams was the pilot yesterday as the Hayes-trained griffin Always Welcome landed a monster market move in the opener, firming from more than 24-1 to 6-1 at the jump. For a trainer who is well known for his babies, Hayes has had a lean and limited season in the griffins to date, with Always Welcome his first winner this season. 'I don't know where the plunge came from but I'm pleased they were right!' Hayes said and explained why he was surprised at the big support.
'I thought this colt was pretty good early this year. Actually, he was fit and ready to run well in a race in February, which he probably wouldn't have won anyway because Four Aces did. He'd had one trial and his work was quite good, but then he went shin sore and had to be scratched. It set him back a bit.'
While Hayes knew the ability was there, he had suspected Always Welcome could need the race yesterday. 'He has really only been trotting and swimming after that for a while so it was a question mark whether he was quite ready this time, but I guess he struck what looked a fairly average kind of griffin race and that pulled him through,' Hayes said. 'Hopefully, he can come on from that.'
Likewise, Williams said he was surprised at the sustained support in betting. 'I've only galloped him once and I thought he was fat, so he's done a good job to win like that,' Williams said.
Like two other good gallopers in the stable in recent years, Special and the current Planet Ruler, Always Welcome is named after a former star from the Hayes family's Lindsay Park stables in Australia.
Good Win (Dwayne Dunn) was a griffin winner last season who had struggled this term to find winning form until yesterday, although he had improved since blinkers were removed.
Yesterday, Dunn found his way to the lead on an all-weather track appearing to favour frontrunners and the Good Win held on strongly to give Hayes one of his infrequent dirt track winners. 'That wasn't a bad win. He was taken on in the lead and still found a kick,' Hayes said. 'He is probably getting back close to where he was as a griffin.'
Like Good Win, Songs Of Praise (Gerald Mosse) is unlikely to ever make the annals of the all-time greats but has been ultra-consistent lately. 'He's come solid and just keeps running well,' Hayes said.
'He has become a pretty useful stayer in Hong Kong terms and his style of racing on the speed makes him very competitive. He has that mishap at Happy Valley when he locked up and everyone thought he had broken down and since then he has not run a bad race.'