Trainers Ben and JD Hayes are dreaming of a tilt at the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) with Group One winner Mr Brightside.
The New Zealand-bred gelding has proven himself up to a mile, with victory in the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m), and they believe he is capable of competing over further ground this spring.
“We definitely have a want to press him out further (than a mile). Just the way he relaxes in his races, we believe he can,” JD Hayes told RSN.
“We have also gene tested him and he is a C:T long, which suggests that you will see the best of him over 10 furlongs.
“We are going to know more in the next couple of months but he has certainly got a devastating turn of foot that he has showed multiple times over his racing career to date and if he is able to reel off a turn of foot like that after 10 furlongs, possibly even 2400m, I think is a good recipe to win more races.
“It (Caulfield Cup) is definitely a possibility. Hopefully it will trend towards that way because it is nice to have a horse in the stable and talking about those type of races.”
Hayes has been pleased with the way the son of Bullbars has returned from his winter spell and he said opting not to head to the Queensland Winter Carnival has set Mr Brightside up nicely for the spring.
“We decided to dodge Brisbane and we feel like we have made the right decision,” Hayes said.
“We resisted the temptation and put him in the paddock and he was able to spell really well and we were able to get him on the right leg for the spring.
“I think he has reached full maturity now. There is probably 40kg difference this time in and he has actually changed colour, he is a lot darker. Just the way he works – he knows the routine.
“We are very happy with the way he trialled up and I think he has taken great benefit out the previous preparations he has had, and I think we are ready to see the best of what Mr Brightside is able to achieve.”
Mr Brightside will kick-off his preparation in the Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday and Hayes believes he will need the run.
“He has certainly got nice fitness on his side,” Hayes said. “He was only in the paddock for four weeks and we have brought him back and been able to give him some nice spacing in his trials into this. In saying that, we haven’t wound him up to win first-up.
“We are just happy with him to race correctly and power to the line.”
Following Saturday’s run, Mr Brightside will head to the Group 2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) and then a decision will be made on the rest of his spring path.
“His first two runs are locked in with the PB Lawrence and then the Feehan at Moonee Valley,” Hayes said.
“We are just going to let him tell us where he goes. Hopefully we keep raising the bar, but it is definitely a reality that we might have to lower the bar too.”
Mr Brightside will be ridden on Saturday by Craig Williams, who has committed to the ride for the spring.
“I think you need to get a crowbar to get Willow (Williams) off the horse, he is locked in for the campaign,” Hayes said.
Cambridge trainer Ralph Manning and good friends Shaun Dromgool and Ray Johnson purchased Mr Brightside as an unraced two-year-old off gavelhouse.com for just $7,750, with some insight into the youngster.
Johnson had bred and sold the son of Bullbars as a yearling at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock May Sale for $22,000 before he had failed to meet his $50,000 reserve at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale where he was prepared by Phoenix Park, and later an opportunity arose to buy him back off online auction gavelhouse.com.
The gelding was initially trained in New Zealand by Manning for whom he ran a luckless fifth in his sole New Zealand start at Matamata before joining the Hayes brothers.