Hayes hoping for perfect Storm in Caulfield Cup
DANCING in the street isn't a normal occurrence for David Hayes, but he just about broke into a soft-shoe shuffle on hearing the news that Yucatán had been scratched from the Caulfield Cup.
Hayes knows a thing or two about winning the race, having achieved it with Fraar (1993), Tawqueet (2006) and Boom Time last year. And last week's Herbert Power winner Yucatán ticked every box.
"I just about did go and dance in the street when I heard he was scratched," Hayes said after senior owner Lloyd Williams announced Yucatan's scratching earlier this week.
"Two of my Caulfield Cup winners came out of the Herbert Power and I have never seen a horse win that race as easily as Yucatán did.
"I thought that no-one was a chance of beating him, but maybe they now win the Melbourne Cup. They know their horse. And I suppose had he won again he might have got a 4kg penalty by the time he got in the Melbourne Cup.
"I now think Youngstar is the clear pick and who I would be tipping.
"He was brilliant behind Winx as was my horse and Kings Will Dream. I think the Turnbull form will be the best form."
Hayes was buoyed by the fourth placing of Ventura Storm behind Winx in the Turnbull and has no doubt his horse is well over the odds.
"Ventura Storm is going really well as his loss by less than two lengths to Winx in the Turnbull Stakes highlighted, finishing right alongside the Caulfield Cup equal favourite in Youngstar," he said.
"He's way over the odds as Boom Time was last year when he won at $51. And you could argue he's going better than Boom Time. Plus Ventura Storm was always in the race so I didn't have to qualify him.
"So the thing about Ventura that people don't realise is he's a horse that has been set for races like the Caulfield Cup. He will be in the mix."
Both Youngstar and Kings Will Dream drop 3kg from the Turnbull to the Caulfield Cup, with Ventura Storm dropping 0.5kg
Meanwhile, jockey Michael Walker has admitted his disappointment at losing his Caulfield Cup ride after Yucatan was withdrawn. But the Kiwi hoop says he doesn't know what the issue was with the race favourite.
Williams made the call shortly before 8pm on Monday to pull Yucatan from Saturday's feature, for which it had been the $4.50 favourite.
Walker, who was booked for the ride on Sunday night, said he was ready to take on the $5 million race but that the focus was on the horse.
"I don't know (what the problem was)," he said.
"It's disappointing, but what do you do?
"I'll be watching from the grandstand (at the moment)."
Walker said he was informed via a text message from Williams on Monday night.
Yucatan reportedly needed more time to recover from a firm Caulfield track on Saturday, with a potential eye to the Melbourne Cup.
New race favourite Youngstar worked strongly at Caulfield on Tuesday with jockey Kerrin McEvoy admitting the had been pleased at the withdrawal of the key opponent but said he considered the Caulfield Cup a very open race.
"It was nice cruisy work, she was strong through the line, so she'll bounce out of that work lovely and in nice order," McEvoy said.