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Hall of Fame trainer David Hayes never pushed his eldest son Ben to continue the family tradition.

“He’s a big believer in you have to love this sport to do it,” Hayes said.

“He said it was something I had to love myself.

“I was naturally drawn to it and loved it.”

Hayes knew when he was 15 he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, legendary trainer Colin Hayes.

But even he was surprised when his dad decided this year that he was ready to step up as a trainer himself.

“To tell the truth I became a trainer a lot sooner than I thought I would and he actually sprung it on me,” Hayes said on Friday.

“My dad started training when he was 26 as well and he thought it was time for me to pick up the reins and join him.”

Four months into his training career, Hayes finds himself in the enviable position of already having a Melbourne Cup runner in partnership with his father and cousin Tom Dabernig.

For Hayes, Melbourne Cup week has been a new kind of pressure, albeit one he has enjoyed.

“Luckily I’ve worked with dad and I’ve been involved in a horse last year – Criterion – running third in the Melbourne Cup but this year was a bit different because I was a trainer.

“You do get very nervous but if you do everything right and get them to the race, that’s all you can do.”

The Lindsay Park team is hoping to better Almoonqith’s sixth in Tuesday’s Cup when they saddle up Seaburge in the $2 million Emirates Stakes and Sheidel and Keen Array in the $1 million Darley Classic.

“I think they’re two very hard Group Ones but I’m happy with my three horses in them,” Hayes said.

“I’m hoping for good runs and I’ll be pleasantly surprised if we can get a winner.”

Hayes recognises the similarities between himself and James Cummings, whose success with Prized Icon made him the fourth generation of that Australian racing dynasty to train a Derby winner.

“Hopefully I can pick up a couple of things and follow in my dad’s footsteps,” he said.

 
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