The race is on for a start in Victoria’s richest two-year-old race with nine of the 90 juveniles still in Blue Diamond contention among acceptances for the Chairman’s Stakes at Caulfield.
The winner of Saturday’s Group Three Chairman’s Stakes earns enough prize money to gain a start in the $1.5 million Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on February 22.
The Lindsay Park operation of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig has three acceptors, Aryaaf, Frederick The Dane and Exporter, but is likely to run the latter at The Valley on Friday night.
David Hayes won three Blue Diamonds in succession from 2006 to 2008 and was successful in partnership with Dabernig with Catchy in 2017.
Dabernig is mindful the lead-up races can be harder to win than the Blue Diamond.
“At this time time of year everyone has their two-year-olds wound up looking for a start in the Blue Diamond,” he said.
Aryaaf is the $2.90 favourite for Saturday’s race but Dabernig says the filly may be underdone having had only one jump-out in preparation for her return.
He said Aryaaf was green in her debut win at Flemington in November but seemed to have matured.
“She’s not a big filly,” Dabernig said.
“Sometimes you get those smaller horses that have a reasonable stride and sometimes you get those ones with the little pokey action.
“She doesn’t move like a small horse.”
In contrast, Dabernig says debutant Frederick The Dane has size and presence and will appreciate drawing barrier eight in the 11-horse field.
He said Frederick The Dane was a similar type to Fixated who finished third behind Blue Diamond favourite Hanseatic in the colts and geldings division of the Preview at Caulfield last Saturday.
“I think the barrier will suit him as it will give him a bit of galloping room and let him use his action,” Dabernig said.
“He’s had a trial at Tatura and a Flemington jump-out, but he’s doing all this pretty much in his first prep, so you’re never really sure how far you’re going to get.”