MIST pervades the early morning at Flemington, it is the eve of the four-day Melbourne Cup carnival - when A$5.5 million in prize money is spread over 32 races - and passions are running high. In the centre of the course the cognescenti are gathered surveying the scene as prized racehorses from all over the country and New Zealand are going through their paces. All the while trainers Lee Freedman, Gai Waterhouse, Bart Cummings and others go about their business scrutinised by a gaggle of press, radio and television reporters. A little away from the centre of activity Peter Hayes, a fit-looking, balding man with slightly stooped shoulders, is quietly putting a watchful eye over his team. It is the first spring carnival for the 46-year-old Hayes, and he is only there by a quirk of fate. Ironically, for about a decade, from his late 20s, he had waited to replace his father Colin as the number one trainer at the all-conquering Lindsay Park at Angaston, South Australia. 'I was in the wings for quite a while ready to take over,' he remembers. 'Dad had a by-pass operation, then another one and everyone, including me, expected him to retire. 'But he's very durable and when he got a reprieve he decided to continue.' When that happened Peter elected to become a trainer in his own right and in 1983 he established stables at Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills. He also developed a wide-range of interests outside racing. An avid cyclist he rode more than 300 kilometres a week; pursued bush-walking and orienteering; became a qualified pilot - he has his own Piper Warrior - and enjoyed other pursuits such as film and theatre. 'I'd watched dad at work,' said Peter. 'Lindsay Park and the horses were his whole life. He didn't have time for anything else, and he didn't want to do anything else. I felt in those earlier days that I was different, and I wanted to do things my way.' Finally in 1990, at 66, his father retired with two Melbourne Cups, a Golden Slipper, three W. S. Cox Plates, a host of other feature events and more than 5,300 races in total. At that time Peter was still intent on developing his own lifestyle so the Lindsay Park trainer's mantle went to his brother David, 14 years his younger. To the delight of Hayes Snr, David fitted comfortably and easily into the role. Within a matter of months he had won the Cox Plate and the Japan Cup in Tokyo - the world's richest race - with Better Loosen Up and had set a world record by winning six Group races on the opening day of the 1990 Melbourne Cup carnival. The success of David Hayes continued unabated - he won last year's Melbourne Cup with Jeune - before, earlier this year, accepting a retainer to train in Hong Kong, where the financial rewards are far more lucrative than those in Australia. The decision had his father's blessing and there was, for a time, a suggestion that the name of C. S. Hayes would again be appearing alongside the name of Lindsay Park's horses. But after modestly returning to the fold a few years before, as an assistant trainer to his brother, Peter decided to step into the breach. That meant taking over an operation with 150 horses-in-training, a staff of 120 employees, and stables at Lindsay Park and Flemington. 'It wouldn't have been right or fair to expect dad to begin training again,' said Peter. 'Besides, I was more comfortable within myself. I'm not riding the bike or doing any of the other things, but I'm very happy with the deal.' The results are already showing that this confidence in Peter is completely justified. In keeping with a long-standing family tradition he is already leading trainer in Adelaide and Melbourne and there seems little doubt P. C. Hayes will figure prominently among the week's big winners. Among them might just be Sheik Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum's seven-year-old Jeune in the Melbourne Cup, which carries A$2 million in prize money and A$35,000 in trophies. Now in Peter's care, Jeune will be striving to create a unique place in racing history by winning the Cup. While Archer (1861-62), Rain Lover (1968-69) and Think Big (1974-75) have won in successive years, Jeune will be the first horse to achieve the feat with different trainers . . . if he is first past the post.