Mark Kavanagh has been dreaming of Australian Derby glory with Sheer Talent, but he might have to readjust his sights to another Classic following his impressive display in today’s C.S. Hayes Stakes at Flemington.
The son of Redoute’s Choice stormed into Australian Guineas contention after posting an upset win in the $150,000 Group 3 event.
Kavanagh pulled the pin on Sheer Talent’s Spring campaign after an unplaced effort in the McNeil Stakes in September and said he had caught him by surprise with how quickly he had come up.
“He wasn’t quite right in the Spring, he had one run and it was really good, but he got crook so we tipped him out with the Guineas and Derbys in mind,” Kavanagh said.
“The way the Guineas is looking we’ll make up our mind in another week or so which way we go. But he is still a little bit round and he is a colt, so there is improvement in him.”
The $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas will be run at Flemington on 2 March.
Sheer Talent jumped well from his wide barrier in the Hayes and Stephen Baster positioned him beautifully in the one out one back before edging three wide at the 400m to set out after leader Force Command.
The $15 chance reeled him in by the 100m and edged away to score by three quarters of a length from that galloper, who also started at $15, with the runner-up’s Greg Eurell-trained stablemate Hosting ($8) a half-head back third.
Baster, who celebrated a winning double with Kavanagh having earlier partnered Casquets to Talindert Stakes victory, was taken with Sheer Talent’s performance.
“I didn’t think there was going to be a lot of speed in the race and ‘Kav’ was pretty adamant that he didn’t want him too far forward in case he got revved up, but, to the horses credit, he just relaxed and lobbed in the position really good,” Baster said.
“I think he is definitely going to be better over more ground, so what you’ve seen today he is going to improve on when he steps up (in distance).”
Of the also-rans, the Mick Kent-trained Philippi saw his unbeaten record come to an end but lost few admirers with his fourth placing, while David Hayes’ Bass Strait hit the line nicely for fifth.
The Peter Snowden-trained Albrecht (seventh), who was the subject a sustained betting move from $4.20 to start $3.20 favourite, settled last and came with a wide run rounding the home turn but was never a winning factor.
Story by Brad Bishop