Hayes signs off with bold prediction: ‘I’ll train double the amount of winners’

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David Hayes flew out to Australia on Sunday night satisfied with his return to Hong Kong racing and bullish about the launch pad that will be waiting for him when he jets back in ahead of next season.

With 30 winners to his name with three meetings remaining in the first season of his second Hong Kong stint, Hayes is poised to finish in the bottom half of the trainers’ premiership but he expects that to change significantly in 2021-22.

“I’m happy enough with this season and I think I’m set-up for a very good year next year. I’m confident that next season I’ll train double the amount of winners that I had this year,” Hayes said.

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More than half of Hayes’ winners this season have come since the start of April, with a plethora of young horses and a cast of hand-me-downs ensuring a slow start for the 58-year-old.

“I’ll be looking to hit the ground running next season with a more balanced team,” Hayes said. “I had 35 horses that have left the stable and they got me one winner so I’m sure the horses that have replaced them will get me a lot more winners. When you end up with so many young horses, they just take time to come right.”

A two-time champion trainer in his first Hong Kong stint, Hayes has a Hong Kong Sprint and a Hong Kong Derby to his name and is itching to have a more significant presence in the biggest races after only two Group One runners this season, but is also realistic.

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Trainer David Hayes gives the exciting Fantastic Treasure a pat.

“I’m developing a few to go up and it’s so hard to bring a new one in and to go bang straight into the big races in their first season,” he said.

“They’ve got to be around for a while, only the odd one does it, so I think it might have to be another year or two to get them to those big races, but I’m sure I’ll be featuring in more Class Ones next year.”

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Fantastic Treasure stamps Classic Mile credentials after Sha Tin demolition

Plenty has changed in the 15 years between Hayes’ first and second Hong Kong adventures, something the trainer got a first-hand look at with his young horses.

“The big changes for me are the times the horses run on the track. The track races more consistently and it races firmer than it used to. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing because they [mostly] pull up well off it, although some don’t,” he said.

“The other thing that is quite a bit different is that horses trial a lot more going into their races, so you need a horse very fit to win first-up where you could win in the old days with freshness off one trial.

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“It’s very hard to do with a new horse, maybe with an old horse that’s been here a few seasons you could do it, but with new horses I’ve learned that if you want them to run well you need three, four, five trials depending on how they are.

“That’s the thing that’s changed, everyone trials so much more so the standard of fitness, there’s no soft race for tempo.

“The other big thing that’s different is everyone had [stable] jockeys and it’s all club jockeys now.”

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Hayes is heading back to Lindsay Park in Euroa to spend time with sons Ben and JD, who began their training partnership last month, and a string of young horses he hopes will eventually make it to Hong Kong.

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He considers the unbeaten Fantastic Treasure’s five straight wins and the barnstorming debut victory of Naboo Attack as his highlights of 2020-21 and won’t be changing too much ahead of his second campaign.

“There’s not really [anything I’ll do differently]. Some of my young ones I made the mistake of not trialling them enough before they ran at the start but I think if I just do what I’m doing I’ll get a lot of winners next year,” he said.

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