Hayes looks to Naboo Attack for HKIR breakthrough

Naboo Attack
Naboo Attack rises to international Group 1 competition on the back of recent good form.

David Hayes is confident Naboo Attack has the ability to match Hong Kong’s finest in the HKD$24 million Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on Sunday (12 December), but concedes the presence of three high-class Japanese entrants is a formidable obstacle.

Bidding for his second LONGINES Hong Kong International Races victory as a trainer, Hayes believes Naboo Attack’s last-start second to Lucky Patch in the Group 2 BOCHK Private Banking Jockey Club Sprint (1200m) at Sha Tin on 21 November bodes well for this Sunday – with a caveat.

Japan is aiming for its fourth win in the Hong Kong Sprint with Danon Smash, Pixie Knight and Resistencia. The Land Of The Rising Sun’s previous wins came from Danon Smash (2020) and Lord Kanaloa (2012 and 2013).

“Naboo Attack hasn’t really put a foot wrong apart from being unlucky a couple of times,” Hayes said. “Last run, he came from the back and beat all bar the winner (Lucky Patch) and he looks like he’s improved a bit since the race so – while it’s hard to judge against the Japanese – against the local horses, he looks like one of the main hopes.

“He’s proved at set weights that he’s up with Hong Kong’s best sprinters. The jokers in the pack are the Japanese horses.

“If Pixie Knight brings his best Japanese form, he might be too good, but he’s got to produce his Japanese form here.”

Twice champion trainer in Hong Kong, Hayes has saddled 39 runners in LONGINES Hong Kong International Races with All Thrills Too (2002 Hong Kong Sprint) providing the Australian Racing Hall of Famer with his best result.

“He was a great horse and he placed in it another year (2001),” Hayes said.

“It would be great to have a similar result again, but I haven’t had that many runners.”

Sitting fifth in the trainers’ championship, Hayes is optimistic over the chances of Helene Allibor and Master Montaro on Sunday’s undercard.

“Helene Allibor is knocking on the door, he’s very close to a win,” Hayes said. “He would be my main one. Master Montaro (Class 2, 1200m) is heading to a sprint and should run well.”

Hayes left Hong Kong in 2005 after 10 years where he accumulated 458 winners. It was announced late in 2019 he would return to Hong Kong after he again established himself as one of Australia’s leading trainers.

While Hayes is currently sitting fifth in the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s training championship, he has trained the same number of winners -17- as fourth-placed Francis Lui.

With 14 fewer runners than Lui, the Hayes stable has picked up HKD$23,995,750 in prizemoney, while Lui has won HKD$29,775,400 in stakes.

Hayes hopes to make some headway on those above him on the premiership table, headed by the leader Frankie Lor on 26 and HKD$34,691,800.

Incredibly, Hayes never finished outside the top five in the trainers’ championship in the nine full seasons at Sha Tin during his first stint in Hong Kong.

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