An imported stayer David Hayes hopes will be a Melbourne Cup contender is set to get his first taste of Australian racing when he steps out at Flemington.
Hayes, who now trains in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig, has last year’s English St Leger runner-up Ventura Storm entered for Saturday’s 2000m handicap at Flemington.
Ventura Storm was trained by Richard Hannon in the northern hemisphere where he won six of his 12 starts.
His victories include a 2500m Group Three race in France and last year’s Group One Gran Premio del Jockey Club (2400m) in Italy.
“He’s a really well credentialed Melbourne Cup horse,” Hayes said.
“We decided to buy him and put a syndicate together.”
Ventura Storm arrived in Australia in February and Hayes plans to give him one start before turning his attention to spring.
“I want to give him a Jeune-type preparation where he has a race in May,” Hayes said.
“We’ll claim (on Saturday) because he’s got a huge weight.
“That will be his only run and then he’ll be put aside and trained for the spring.
“He hasn’t got the speed of an At Talaq or Jeune, but he’s arrived with better staying credentials than them.
“They could win an Orr Stakes over 1400 metres whereas this horse I don’t think could. That’s why he’s running over 2000 metres.”
Hayes won the Melbourne Cup in 1994 with import Jeune, while his late father Colin won the Cup with At Talaq in 1986 in his second Australian campaign.
Ventura Storm has 62kg for Saturday’s race.
“I’m looking forward to it but I’m not expecting too much because of the weight and being first-up at 2000 metres,” Hayes said.
“I think he’ll come back in the spring and step out in probably a mile race first-up and be quite competitive.”
Ventura Storm will be joined in the Flemington race by stable veteran Extra Zero who will be having his 100th start.