Resurgent trainer David Hayes is taken by recent stable addition Spacecraft who will be out to foil Whobegotyou’s bid for a third consecutive Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
Originally prepared by Danny O’Brien and then Mick Price, Spacecraft has had just one start since transferring to Hayes.
That was in the Listed Penny Edition Stakes (1400m) at Morphettville last month when he was fourth to Saturday’s rival Alcopop.
The five-year-old is not a noted first-up performer, making his effort all the more pleasing.
From his ideal draw in barrier three on Saturday, Hayes believes Spacecraft can make his presence felt.
“He needed the run first-up but I think you’ll find he’ll be more competitive than people think,” Hayes said.
“He should get a lovely run from the barrier and he’ll run a good race.”
Spacecraft was a $17 chance with TAB Sportsbet on Friday with betting dominated by Whobegotyou, the $1.50 favourite to win the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes (1600m) for the third year running.
It is hard to make a case against the Mark Kavanagh-trained favourite.
The only time he has been beaten at the trip in six attempts was in the 2009 Doncaster Handicap when he was a desperately unlucky third to Vision And Power.
He also has a superior record at the Valley where he has posted half of his 10 career wins and finished third in a Cox Plate.
But Spacecraft does boast some telling statistics of his own.
He has also shown a liking for the circuit, winning three of his four Valley starts and finishing runner-up to Hanks in the 2009 AAMI Vase at the other.
And three of his five career victories have been over 1600m.
He has been placed at weight-for-age, finishing third to Heart Of Dreams in the Group Two St George Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield in February, although he is yet to win at that level.
Hayes is hoping that might change on Saturday.
“He’s a very good Valley horse, he certainly needed the run last time so let’s hope he can do it this weekend,” Hayes said.
Hayes has been in a rebuilding phase and recently moved his operation from South Australia to Euroa in Victoria.
With that shift came a change in focus.
“We’re not concentrating on just Melbourne like we used to,” Hayes said.
“We’re trying to spread them (horses) where they’re best placed between Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne.
“We’re leading the premiership in Adelaide and we’ve had a couple of winners and a few placings from only a few runners in Sydney. And Melbourne, well we haven’t really got going yet.”
That could change at the Valley on Saturday when Hayes will have four runners, including Jalsah in the Group Two Stocks Stakes (1600m) and Extra Zero in the Spotless Hcp (1600m).
Extra Zero and Spacecraft are both nominated for the Group One Epsom Handicap in Sydney on October 1 and could earn a trip north if they perform well.