Bass Straight is likely to be given his shot at a double that hasn’t been completed for almost a quarter of a century after returning to the winner’s list in today’s $80,000 TMB Printing Handicap at Caulfield.
The progressive four-year-old atoned for a luckless fifth placing in the Group 2 Dao Tan Chin Nam Stakes with a dominant display in the 1700m event.
It was an effort that confirmed to Hayes that Bass Strait is on track for the BMW Caulfield Cup – in which he has just 50kg – but Hayes’ problem is gaining a start in the $2.5 million event.
The Holy Roman Emperor gelding is likely to have to win one of the ballot-exempt races at Caulfield on 12 October to get a run in the Caulfield Cup and Hayes said the 1600m Toorak Handicap – which Cole Diesel won a week before winning the 1989 Caulfield Cup – might be the most winnable option.
The others are the 2000m Caulfield Stakes, which Cox Plate favourites It’s a Dundeel and Atlantic Jewel will contest, along with the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).
“Probably the Caulfield Stakes (is the best option) but the problem is he’ll be a 95-rater racing Atlantic Jewel and It’s A Dundeel,” Hayes said. “Apart from them, though, I’d say he’ll be very competitive.
“Probably the Toorak, if he could get in, would be the way I leaned too.”
Although down in the ratings, Bass Strait looks assured of a start in the Toorak Handicap with horses entered for the BMW Caulfield Cup granted preference in the ballot.
While they encountered little luck in the straight in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes, Bass Strait and gun apprentice jockey Chad Schofield always looks in control of the TMB Printing Handicap.
After stalking the leading division three horses back on the outside, Bass Strait ambled alongside the leaders entering the straight before breaking clear.
The easy $3.30 favourite, who opened at $2.80, scored by 1.5 lengths from Garud ($8.50) with Lord Durante ($10) close up in third position.
“At the halfway mark if, I could have painted the position (I wanted), Chad had him in it,” Hayes said. “It was a really good ride.
“I just loved the way that he joined in with the authority of a good horse today.”
Story by Brad Bishop