David Hayes looking to create Karaka history

AUSTRALIAN trainer David Hayes will follow in his late father’s footsteps when he chases a feature two-year-old victory on New Zealand soil.

The Hall Of Fame trainer has all but confirmed his unbeaten young star Long Leaf will cross the Tasman for a crack at the country’s richest race, the Karaka Million at Ellerslie on January 27.

“He definitely won’t run again before then and as long as he trials well in Sydney in a couple of weeks he’ll be there,” he said.

Thirty years ago, Hayes’ father Colin went close to a group one victory at Awapuni with the Godswalk filly Glorious Way, who was part-owned by the late Robert Sangster.

The horse finished runner-up in the hands of Noel Harris in the Manawatu Sires’ Produce Stakes behind the subsequent Group One New Zealand Derby winner Satisfy, who was making his 17th appearance as a two-year-old when it lowered the visitor’s colours.

“I’ve had one runner in the Karaka Million, but that was a few years ago now,” Hayes said.

The Exceed And Excel filly Optimizing finished seventh in the 2009 edition won by The Heckler, which was trained by Murray Baker then in partnership with his now Sydney-based son Bjorn.

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Long Leaf was a debut winner over 1000m at Morphettville last month and on Saturday the colt kept its perfect record intact with victory in the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes at Sandown.

“He flew the gates, but he’s not a sheer speed horse,” Hayes said.

“He’s very good and he’ll be much better at 1200 or 1400m. He’s a beauty this horse and he’s always showed a lot.

“He’s a lovely type.”

The colt is son of Fastnet Rock and the Stravinsky mare Frustrating, a half-sister to the group one winners Tiger Tees and Terravista and the former Singapore Horse of the Year Super Easy, now standing at Hallmark Stud.

Long Leaf was purchased out of Curraghmore’s draft at Karaka earlier this year for $750,000 and is raced by a syndicate that includes a number of Coolmore’s leading principals from Australia and Ireland and Sir Peter Vela.

Gordon Cunningham’s Curraghmore celebrated a memorable stakes double at Sandown on Saturday with Fanatic also winning the Listed Sandown Cup.

Born and raised at Curraghmore for owner-breeder Sean Kiernan, Fanatic is by the 2009 Melbourne Cup winner, and successful Rich Hill Stud sire, Shocking.

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