FIRST-SEASON training sensation David Hayes yesterday threw down a championship gauntlet with a 150-1 treble at Sha Tin. Hayes, more than living up to the reputation built on Melbourne Cup and Japan Cup triumphs, scored with Esteemed in the second, Optic General in the third and Blazing Blade in the fifth. He narrowly failed to saddle the quinella in the fourth when his Take Charge and Celestial Fortune ran second and third to Banker's Delight and anyone making a book on just who's going to be champion come the end of the season would find it hard to split Hayes and Ivan Allan who are level on 17 winners, two ahead of Patrick Biancone. The naturally ebullient Hayes was more effusive than ever after the last. 'That was terrific,' he beamed. 'I predicted when I came here that I would be making a slow start and these early wins are the bonus I said they'd be. 'I thought I would have to adjust the training methods I'd developed in Australia as I didn't think they'd be so suited to Hong Kong's unique style of racing. 'What I didn't know were the adjustments I was going to have to make so I was prepared to take it slowly and play it by ear to an extent. 'But as things have turned out I haven't had to make too many adjustments at all - certainly not any major ones and I couldn't be happier with the way things are going.' Most of Hayes' successes have been with his more seasoned handicappers. What makes him a most serious and determined championship contender in only his first campaign is that he has a very talented bunch of three-year-olds that he has brought up with him from Australia. They are his hidden arsenal and could fire him to the title if a final push is needed come April and May. He went on to explain: 'The weight-for-age scale is against them at the moment so I'm not going to press too hard. But they should come into their own in the last third of the season when the weight-for-age scale tilts a little more in their favour.' It may take 12 months for them to really acclimatise and find themselves on a competitive handicap mark. So if Hayes doesn't beat the likes of Allan, Biancone and defending champion John Moore in his first season, he is going to take a lot of stopping next term. Esteemed is a great advert for Hayes' talents as this horse hadn't even placed for three other trainers, including Moore who really is top-class. For Hayes, he has now won twice and run second and third from five outings. Yesterday Esteemed was well ridden by Danny Lee to take the local riders' event from Money Fountain and Quick Silver. Optic General was by far the most impressive of Hayes' three winners though he did benefit from racing smack against the rails in the third event down the 1,000-metre chute. Generally there was a huge bias to leaders or those sitting on the fence throughout yesterday's programme. It was no more evident than in this third race where Optic General made all from barrier two from Happy Cheers who was drawn four and Sumotori who jumped from three. Those out wide were patently lengths worse off which is why Hayes' other runners, Kenzig and Glorious Decade - but Kenzig especially - did well to finish close-up. It is difficult to exaggerate the promise of the run from the two-year-old Increase Speed who ran fifth from barrier nine behind Optic General, giving weight to a number of four-year-olds and upwards. Blazing Blade benefitted from the easier ground, blinkers for the second time and a barrier two draw to take the fifth from Magic Fingers.