BALLARAT Cup winner Pilote D’Essai has clinched a second feature race in a month after winning the Pakenham Cup for the Hayes and Dabernig team in spectacular fashion.
The dual-cup winner will now take a break until the Sydney autumn after taking out the feature race at Pakenham as the $4.50 second favourite at WilliamHill.com.au.
After a slight drift in the market, the British import assumed front position at the 300m mark ahead of long-time leader and second placed Puccini ($2.70 to place at Crownbet.com.au), as the five-year-old sprinted away to leave the field in its wake.
Race favourite Little White Cloud was a well-beaten elect back in third position and returned $1.70 at Sportsbet.com.au.
The win was Pilote D’Essai’s second major race win after recording just a solitary victory since coming to Australia in early 2015.
Jockey Regan Bayliss – whose debut ride aboard the horse was the Ballarat Cup win – said getting the horse out to the right distance was pivotal for a horse that had previously been racing below the 2000m mark.
“A lot of people wrote this horse off, I have to be honest,” Bayliss said.
“He’s been labelled a bit of cat in his past runs but I can’t see why.
“He’s had no luck in any of his runs and now that he’s got to his right distance trip he’s proved a lot of people wrong.”
Bayliss said he never panicked aboard the horse despite Puccini’s early race move, and had an ominous warning for rivals going into 2017.
“Puccini put a bit of pressure on me and whipped around… [but] I was never too worried, I knew I had the horse underneath me.”
“I think you’ll see a serious horse through the autumn.”
Pilote D’Essai’s trainer David Hayes reiterated Bayliss’ comments, saying anything under 2000m is not ideal for the progressive gelding.
“I think he’ll be a very reliable horse 2000m and beyond,” Hayes said.
“Probably in the spring we were running him a bit short… hindsight’s a wonderful thing.”
Hayes said the horse will now take a short spell before preparations for the Sydney autumn carnival will begin, where the team is looking at the Sydney Cup as a race that is within their reach.
“We can give him a month in the water walker, going out in the paddock now and we’ll set him for a nice race in the autumn like the Australia Cup or the Peter Young.”