David Hayes believes he has a live Caulfield Cup hope in Bass Strait and will try to cement his place in the race via the Toorak Handicap.
Bass Strait scored a 1-1/2 length win in Sunday’s TMB Printing Handicap (1700m) on the back of a luckless fifth in the Group Two Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley at his previous start.
Hayes was originally looking at three options at Caulfield on October 12 for Bass Strait, unaware the four-year-old would gain a start in the Toorak (1600m) as a Caulfield Cup entrant.
The winner of the Toorak is exempt from ballot for the Caulfield Cup a week later.
Another option would have meant taking on Atlantic Jewel and It’s A Dundeel in the Caulfield Stakes at weight-for-age.
“He is an ideal Caulfield Cup horse with no weight,” Hayes said.
“He will go to the Toorak.”
Bass Strait was second over 1300m at Sandown first-up before finishing on the heels of the placegetters in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) second-up.
“Some good judges said he was a bit unlucky in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and I agree,” Hayes said.
“I think he could have tested Fiorente or definitely run second, and I just love the way he joined in with the authority of a good horse today.”
Chad Schofield had Bass Strait, the $3.30 favourite, in a perfect spot just off the speed and he worked into the race nicely before sprinting clear in the straight.
He defeated Garud ($8.50) with Lord Durante ($10) another neck away third.
By Holy Roman Empire out of Zabeel mare Crystalline, Bass Strait is bred to stay and also holds and entry to the Melbourne Cup.