Harlem has edged out his more-fancied rivals to win the $1.5 million Australian Cup at Flemington.
An upset win in the Australian Cup by imported gelding Harlem has capped a huge day for the powerful Lindsay Park team, bringing up a Group One double for the stable at Flemington.
Harlem enjoyed a perfect run in Saturday’s $1.5 million weight-for-age feature before bursting through near the inside at the 100m to defeat favourite Gailo Chop ($2.60) by a half-length.
The six-year-old’s Cup triumph as a $61 chance came after his stablemate Redkirk Warrior, who carries the same colours, clinched the Newmarket Handicap (1200m) for the second-straight year.
Harlem’s stablemate Ventura Storm ($31) also looked a winning hope before finishing three quarters of a length behind Gailo Chop in third, while Almandin was fourth.
Harlem bounced back to form after a last-start failure in the Peter Young Stakes having finished second to Gailo Chop the start before.
Senior Lindsay Park trainer David Hayes said he emerged out of his last start with a cold.
“We were able to get him up on the farm (at Euroa) with his head down, treat him, and he got over it and was back to his brilliant best,” Hayes said.
“He had a lot of time in the irrigated day paddocks at home and it really turned him around.”
It was a fourth Australian Cup win for David Hayes who now trains in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig.
Hayes and Dabernig won the 2015 edition with import Spillway who, like Harlem was ridden by Michael Walker, while this was Ben Hayes’ first Australian Cup and arguably his most memorable meeting since being elevated to co-trainer in 2016.
“It’s a really special moment,” Ben Hayes said.
“I hate to say it but this almost beats the day we had the Blue Diamond Stakes and Oakleigh Plate double last year.
“It’s not every day you can win a Group One. And to win two in one day, again, is just fantastic.”
David Hayes praised Walker’s ride, getting Harlem travelling well in fourth and having him in what appeared the right spot on the day near the fence.
“M Walker was just outstanding,” Hayes said.
“He found the fast track and he got the money, which was great.”
The win was Walker’s second Group One of the season after winning the Caulfield Guineas on Mighty Boss.
“He was on today and when the gap opened I was always going to win,” Walker said.
Mark Zahra said Gailo Chop was brave in defeat.
“There was a little more pressure than what we would have liked early which told late,” he said.