He’s taken a circuitous route to the Doncaster Mile but journeyman Redkirk Warrior is set to go the distance.
After starting out at Great Yarmouth in a 3YO maiden in 2014, the well-travelled gelding went from England to Hong Kong to his final destination, the Lindsay Park training base at Euroa.
Hayes, who trains in partnership with his son Ben and Tom Dabernig in Victoria, acquired the import in November 2015 and since then a horse apparently headed for retirement in Hong Kong has enjoyed a new lease of life.
Redkirk Warrior’s resurgence began with his first run in Australia – a second in an open handicap at Moonee Valley last October – and continued with wins in the Sandown Stakes and Newmarket Handicap either side of a 17-week spell.
Winning the Group One Newmarket Handicap (1200m) was particularly notable given he snapped a 100-year hoodoo by winning the Flemington sprint first-up on March 11.
On Saturday he can prove his versatility when he jumps up in distance to the 1600m Doncaster Mile.
“I’m very lucky to have him,” Hayes said.
“He was pretty successful then he got a flat tyre. Something went wrong with his feet and he didn’t race for a year. They virtually retired him from Hong Kong.
“He was sent to us and our farrier did a great job with him. He’s very good in his feet now.”
Redkirk Warrior was promising from the outset, winning his first start in England over 2032m and he also ran second in the Hong Kong Classic Cup at Sha Tin in February 2015 before the wheels figuratively fell off.
“I’m pretty confident he’s ready for the mile. I think he’s a weight-for-age horse with a handicapper’s weight (53kg). He’s been set for this race,” Hayes said.
The only drawback was the barrier Hayes drew for Redkirk Warrior and Regan Bayliss.
“We might need a pretty clever ride from the 15,” Hayes said.
The Kris Lees-trained Le Romain is the $6 favourite with Sportsbet after drawing barrier eight.
Hayes also has Dibayani in the field but was downbeat about the seven-year-old gelding’s chances of adding to his two wins from 28 starts.
Dibayani, who started his career in Ireland before also arriving in Australia via Hong Kong, almost broke his Australian duck at Randwick in the Epsom Handicap last October but Hauraki got home by half a head.
“He doesn’t win does he? He keeps running placings,” Hayes said.
But the trainer identified one upside for the $41 chance this weekend.
“He’ll love looking up and not seeing that Winx.”
Dibayani finished fourth in the Apollo Stakes won by the champion mare last month, the same position he occupied behind her in 2016 before finishing second in the Chipping Norton Stakes.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au