Lindsay Park senior trainer David Hayes is eyeing Group One races with the imported Pilote D’essai after the gelding recorded a second straight country Cup success.
After leading throughout in the 2200m Ballarat Cup on November 19, Pilote D’essai was equally as impressive stepping up to the 2500m of Saturday’s Pakenham Cup.
Jumping smartly, Pilote D’essai led early under apprentice Regan Bayliss before taking a sit when Stephen Baster on Puccini made a mid-race move.
Saving ground turning for home, Pilote D’essai ($5) hit the front inside the 400m mark and strode clear of his rivals before scoring by 2-1/4 lengths from Puccini ($9) with the $3.70 favourite Little White Cloud 1-3/4 lengths away third.
Pilote D’essai was the third leg of a four-straight winning quartet for Lindsay Park with Grand Rosso taking out the VOBIS Gold Bullion after earlier wins by Snitzson in the Wise Choice Catering Handicap and Mihany in the David Bourke Memorial Handicap.
Hayes said Pilote D’essai would now be wrapped in cotton wool in preparation for the autumn.
“We can give him a month in the water walker and he can go out in the paddock of a day and we’ll set him for the Australian Cup in the autumn,” Hayes said.
“I feel he’s got the class of a Spillway and he’ll deliver on it I think.”
Spillway won the Australian Cup for Lindsay Park in 2015.
Pilote D’essai hadn’t been tried beyond 1800m before his Ballarat Cup success where he was ridden forward from a wide gate.
Hayes praised Bayliss for his ride and taking the initiative to take a sit when Puccini made the mid-race move.
“He’s been given some opportunities and grabbed them with two hands and it won’t be too long before he rides his claim out,” Hayes said.
“It was an easy decision to leave him on as when jockeys win on horses I don’t like to change them.
“And he’s been winning.”
Bayliss said the Ballarat Cup victory had given the gelding renewed confidence and could not understand why punters had drifted away from the gelding on Saturday.
“All of his runs had been luckless and now that he’s stepped out to his right distance range and we’re figuring out how to ride him you’re going to see a serious horse in the autumn,” Bayliss said.
“I’ve got no doubt he can make it to the next level.”
The victory of Gallic Chieftain in the Stabi-Lime Group Handicap completed a quartet for Craig Williams who combined with Hayes on Snitzson and Grand Rosso after an earlier success on Maternal.