Handy galloper So Risque showed plenty of fight in registering a winning performance at Caulfield on Saturday afternoon.
The Ben, Will and JD Hayes-prepared six-year-old son of So You Think was three wide early on before settling on the tail of pacemaker Imperial Lad as rider Daniel Stackhouse bided his time to make his challenge rounding the home bend.
Stackhouse shot So Risque clear and he maintained a strong gallop to the line to fend off the late challenge of Robusto who chased resolutely to get within a length at the line.
Co-trainer Ben Hayes was delighted to see his charge return to winning form in just his second start in a new campaign.
“It was a good effort,” Hayes said.
“They all jumped with each other and I’m glad Stacky made the decision and rolled forward. It was a great ride.
“It looked like he was going to be caught three-wide and got in a spot without too much work.
“He didn’t have bad luck today and it was really good to get a win with him because he’s been running really well and hasn’t been winning.”
Hayes admitted he did have some anxious moments as Robusto chased hard which brought back memories of the finish to the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) last month where the Hayes-trained Mr Brightside went down by a nose to the James McDonald-ridden Romantic Warrior.
“I was watching the race and I was having flashbacks when I saw James McDonald coming late,” he said.
“It was a bit of target race that we came up with today after the month between runs with a trial.
“We’ve always liked him and today went to plan, while it was nice to get a win for Rob (Slade).
Stackhouse was also taken by the effort by So Risque.
“This horse has got a lot of ability. I wanted to be positive and got a lovely run race with the tempo,” he said.
“We stayed out of trouble, moved forward and travelled really nicely with the tempo.
“I got him to improve on the corner and got the other horses off the bridle.
“He quickened like he did and wouldn’t get beaten.”