The days when David Hayes dominated Melbourne spring carnivals may be well in the past, but there are strong recent indications that he could again be a force in Victorian racing.
One of them emerged at Flemington on Thursday when Niconoise won the Swisse Wellness Trophy (1800m).
Niconoise made up for a string of big-race placings for Hayes earlier in the carnival, the most notable being Rawnaq in last Saturday’s Victoria Derby.
While Niconoise’s breakthrough came in one of the lesser races of the spring, Hayes predicts a brighter future for the well-related son of Redoute’s Choice.
“I’m quite confident he’ll develop into a Group horse next year,” Hayes said.
“He’s very talented and he’s been very close to winning a nice race.”
Niconoise is a half-brother to the high-class sprinter Nicconi and a three-quarter brother to the Australian Cup winner Niconero, both of whom were trained by Hayes.
Niconoise ($9) finished best to beat the heavily backed Commanding Time ($4.60 fav) by three-quarters of a length with Pelicano ($11) two lengths away third.
Seven times the champion trainer in Melbourne and twice in Hong Kong, Hayes trained a seemingly unapproachable six Group winners on Victoria Derby Day in 1990.
Since moving his training base to Euroa in central Victoria major winners have been rare, but in recent months the success rate has lifted with a string of winners in NSW and Victoria.