David Hayes has compared Rebel Soldier favourably with dual Group One winner Tawqeet ahead of the import’s Sydney debut.
Rebel Soldier was due to leave Hayes’ Euroa base in Victoria on Thursday night to tackle the Group Three Kingston Town Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Hayes won the 2006 Metropolitan Handicap (2400m) and Caulfield Cup (2400m) with Tawqeet and Rebel Soldier has been nominated for both races.
“He reminds me a lot of Tawqeet,” Hayes said.
“Just his run in that 1700-metre race the other day I thought it was very much like him (Tawqeet).
“I liked his last furlong (200m), he ran as good a sectional as anything in the race but just didn’t feature.”
The lightly-raced Rebel Soldier won the Group Three Gordon Stakes (2414m) at Goodwood in July last year before transferring to Hayes.
He showed little in his first two Australian starts in February and was again well back when he resumed over 1410m at Flemington in August.
But the five-year-old showed a glimpse of promise last start, doing his best work late to finish eighth to Testascana over 1700m when beaten less than four lengths.
Hayes was encouraged enough to raise the bar and predicted a cheeky performance from Rebel Soldier if he could overcome his wide draw in barrier 14.
“I thought his last run was encouraging and I would think over 2000 (metres) he would be competitive if he gets a nice run from the ordinary barrier,” Hayes said.
“I’m just running him up there to have a look from a Metropolitan angle.
“He’s in everything so he’s due to step up in one of these races if he’s going to be a major player.”
Kiwi whiz-kid James McDonald has picked up the ride on Rebel Soldier who will be one of two Hayes-trained runners at Rosehill.
Almahaab won’t take his place in the opening race but Parisian Romance will line up in the Listed Sheraco Stakes (1100m).
The mare has won three of her 11 starts, the most recent a 1100m victory at Geelong on August 23.
Hayes is hoping she can pick up some black type but concedes she will need “to lift a bit” against the likes of Graceful Anna, Solar Charged and Dorf Command.
Now that Hayes has moved his training base from South Australia to Victoria, Sydney is increasingly on his radar and he expects to continue to target the carnival races here in the coming weeks.
“I’ll have regular runners in Sydney, one or two a week,” Hayes said.
“I’m only seven-and-a-half hours away.”