After being looked on as a possible Blue Diamond Stakes contender, Eshtiraak has emerged as a leading hope for another two-year-old feature with victory at Sandown.
The Lindsay Park operation was considering Eshtiraak for Saturday’s Blue Diamond following a win at Sandown earlier this month.
But after pitting Eshtiraak and Blue Diamond contender Muraahib together in a track gallop the stable had a change of plans for the Shadwell Stud-owned two-year-olds with Eshtiraak now being aimed at the VRC Sires’ Produces Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on March 11.
Ridden by Damien Oliver, Eshtiraak was sent out the $3.10 favourite in the Wednesday’s Moorookyle Handicap before scoring a hard-fought three-quarter length victory over Sircconi.
Eshtiraak’s stablemate Seaburge finished second in the corresponding race last year before going on to win the Sires’.
“We worked Muraahib and Eshtiraak together and Muraahib had that little bit better turn of foot,” co-trainer Ben Hayes said.
“We were originally going to run in the Diamond but we changed our minds and decided to run him here and then go to the Sires’.
“They’re both Shadwell horses and they didn’t mind.
“It’s worked out well so far.”
Hayes said there was still improvement to come from Eshtiraak ahead of the Sires’ and importantly the two-year-old relaxed for Oliver on Wednesday.
Lindsay Park’s junior training partner didn’t dismiss the idea of a Golden Slipper start for Eshtiraak if he won the Sires’ but suggested a more likely scenario would be races over 1400m and 1600m during the Sydney carnival.
“We’ll try and win a Sires’ first and then think about Sydney after that,” he said.
Stakes races in Adelaide are on the cards for stablemate Red Is The Rose after her win in the Elaren Security Services Plate.
She showed an explosive turn of foot soon after straightening to go on and record a 4-1/2 length victory.
“The penny is really starting to drop with her,” Hayes said.
“Some of those nice stakes race in Adelaide may suit her and then maybe even the Australasian Oaks.”
Hayes was in the winners’ stall twice more with Chateau Cheval after the Ladbrokes Boost Extra Handicap and Sebring Dream in the Le Pine Funerals Handicap.
“That’s the first time I’ve had four winners at the one venue since I joined training with Dad and Tom (Dabernig),” Hayes said.