David Hayes is all smiles when the name Risque comes up.
Hayes, who trains in partnership with nephew Tom Dabernig, has a high enough opinion of the filly to run her against her male counterparts in the Australian Guineas at Flemington on Saturday.
A newcomer to the Lindsay Park operation, Risque made a winning Australian debut in the Kevin Hayes Stakes at Caulfield on February 13.
The NZ 1000 Guineas winner at Riccarton last year, Risque was bought by Darren Thomas and Neil Werrett on the recommendation of bloodstock expert Mark Pilkington.
The filly has improved since her Caulfield win and Hayes says the bigger spaces of Flemington and the rise to 1600m will be a bonus.
And the scratching of Mahuta from the Autumn Classic at Caulfield to run in the Guineas gives him extra confidence.
“That’s what I wanted,” Hayes said.
“He will provide a bit of speed with the New Zealand horse Xtravagant.”
Hayes resisted the temptation to run Risque in the Angus Armanasco Stakes on Saturday.
“I just felt from next week on every race in Sydney is worth a million dollars,” Hayes said.
“Why jeopardise a back-up now for a hundred grand.
“I’ll back her up for a million but not a hundred as it could harm the million dollar races down the track.
“She would have won that and it would have been a canter.”
Risque is a $13 Guineas chance with the TAB which has Xtravagant at $4.20 ahead of Palentino at $4.80.
Damian Lane, who Hayes says has fallen in love with the filly, again rides her on Saturday with Luke Currie to ride stablemate Sovereign Nation.
Sovereign Nation finished fifth behind Tivaci in the CS Hayes Stakes at Flemington on February 20 after being bottled up.
“He had no luck in Dad’s race,” Hayes said.
“He had a Zamzam-like run by mistake.”
Zamzam, third behind the Mick Price-trained Extreme Choice and Flying Artie in Saturday’s Blue Diamond Stakes, found trouble at her previous outing in the Fillies Prelude.