David Hayes admits to getting it wrong with Zululand’s Caulfield Guineas campaign, leaving the trainer to rely on a gear switch to revive the colt’s chances in the $1 million race.
Hayes trained Palace Reign and St Covet to Guineas wins and he is hoping the use of blinkers on Zululand can give him a third.
A Fastnet Rock colt, Zululand raced in blinkers to win the Group Two Sires’ Produce Stakes at Flemington in March.
He headed to Sydney and raced in the gear when fifth in the Group One ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes before running second to Go Indy Go in the Champagne Stakes over 1600m.
But Hayes decided to remove the blinkers from Zululand for his spring campaign and the results have been mixed.
After a luckless first-up fifth in the Group Three Vain Stakes at Caulfield on August 16, Zululand has finished seventh at his three subsequent performances.
“We took the blinkers off him this preparation and I don’t think it was the right thing to do,” Hayes said.
“We thought he might settle him more, but he’s a colt that we think needs them.”
Zululand goes into Guineas after his seventh to Almalad in the Bill Stutt Stakes at Moonee Valley.
“Just forget the Valley. He’ll appreciate a fast-run race and it might spark a bit of improvement in him,” Hayes said.
A $41 chance to be ridden by Damien Oliver, Zululand has an ideal draw and Hayes said his colt compared favourably with the better-fancied Chivalry ($12).
“They finished together (at Moonee Valley) off the slow tempo,” he said.
Meanwhile in what is shaping as a dress-rehearsal for the Cox Plate, Hayes is expecting Crackerjack King to play a part in the outcome of the Group One Caulfield Stakes.
Crackerjack King spent two years on the sidelines with a tendon injury and showed a return to form when third in the Underwood Stakes at Caulfield on September 20, after leading and racing well off the fence.
“We did some different tactics on him the other day and might have overdone it a bit, but it worked,” Hayes said.
“I think we’ll adopt similar tactics but not sit as wide.
“He’s genuinely improved a bit from that race, so if he’s going to be a Cox Plate contender he’s going to have to run well in this.”