Things We Learned » Hayes on fire

Hayes on fire

One of the stories of Listowel week – the meeting that usually plays host to the first tentative flight of the fledgling National Hunt season – was Chris Hayes.  A flat jockey, God help us.

Hayes rode six winners during the week from just nine rides, representing a strike rate of 66.7% and a level-stakes-profit at SP for the week of €28, the rider’s performance highlighted by a second-day hat-trick – three rides on Tuesday, three winners.

Two other notable aspects of Hayes’s haul.  Firstly, his six winners were for five different trainers, testimony to the breadth as well as the depth of his appeal as a rider.  Secondly, on all six winners – indeed, on all nine rides – he endeavoured to keep things simple.  The ground was extremely testing for flat horses all week at Listowel and, while you were a sitting duck if you went too fast in front, you were also making things difficult for yourself if you were trying to make ground from too far back in the field.  Hayes led all the way on two of his winners, and he settled just behind the pace on the other four.  Keep it simple, make it look easy.  His six wins were achieved by an aggregate of 26¾ lengths.

Hayes was champion apprentice in Ireland by a distance in 2005, just his second season with a licence.  Champion apprentice is not always the pre-cursor to a riding career of success and longevity, and the Limerick man would have been forgiven for clinging to the ropes a little after his job with Lady O’Reilly was no more, but he has bounced back stronger than ever now.  Currently lying fifth in the jockeys’ championship with 50 winners, he has a top agent in his corner and he has consolidated strong relationships with several top trainers, young upwardly mobile ones as well as long-established veterans.  He is enjoying his most successful season ever by far, and his star is very much in the ascendancy.

Trading places

It was difficult not to be impressed with the manner in which Trading Leather came clear of his field in the one-mile juvenile maiden at Gowran Park on Sunday.

You could argue that the form of the race that Jim Bolger’s colt won does not look that strong at first glance, with the John Oxx-trainer pair Shadagann and Qewy – seventh and 13th respectively on their racecourse debuts in Mooqtar’s maiden at Leopardstown on Champion Stakes day – filling the minor places, but we know how much the Oxx juveniles can improve from their racecourse debuts, especially when stepping up in trip, as they were, and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Kingdom, who finished fifth, and who had shaped with bundles of promise when he finished third in a Galway maiden two weeks previously, may provide a better barometer of the quality of this maiden.

The winning time was really good, the fastest comparative flat race run on the day, faster even than the Group 3 fillies’ contest won by Aloof, despite the fact that it was the only juvenile race on the card.  Anyway, sometimes you have to just trust your eyes, and this performance was visually impressive in every way.

Trading Leather is entered in both the Dewhurst and the Racing Post Trophy, and he would be well worth his place in either of those races although, with his stable companion Dawn Approach on track for the former, the latter may be the race for him.  Even though his dam is from the family of milers and seven-furlong horses and 1000 Guineas winner Hatoof, she is out of Derby and Arc winner Sinndar, and Trading Leather races as if he will get further than a mile. The Racing Post Trophy is usually a juveniles’ pointer to three-year-old middle distance races, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if that is the path that the son of Teofilo treads.

Teofilo knack

Speaking of Teofilo, it is interesting that the Kildangan Stud stallion’s top three prize money earners – and five of his top 10 prize money earners – are bred, owned and trained by Jim and Jackie Bolger.  It shouldn’t be surprising though – they obviously know what works with the champion juvenile of 2006.

Griffin going strong

Signs are that Eoin Griffin has his small team in tremendous form. Norther Bay bounced off the good ground that suits him so well at Gowran Park on Sunday, and duly landed a two-mile handicap hurdle, while Admiral Barry went very close in a 12-furlong handicap at Fairyhouse on Monday.

Both of these horses could be well handicapped now. Admiral Barry was racing off a mark of 81 on Monday, and he is sure to go up a couple of pounds, but he may have some leeway even off a new mark, considering that he finished a running-on fifth in the 2011 Chester Cup off a mark of 98.

Norther Bay (who was due to run in an apprentices’ handicap at Dundalk last night) has been raised 9lb to a mark of 123, but this was a good performance, the runner-up Rodriguez is progressive and was well-backed, and the pair of them finished clear. Also, the nine-year-old is rated 130 over fences, so he still may have something in hand of the handicapper even off his new mark over hurdles.

Cambridgeshire each-way

If bookmakers pay ¼ the odds a place the first four places in handicaps with 16 or more runners, and the more progressive ones pay ¼ the odds a place the first five places in handicaps with 22 or more runners, then what do you think their each-way terms should be in handicaps with 34 or 35 runners?  Six places?

(Clue: the SP total percent in the last 10 renewals of the Cambridgeshire was never any lower than 133% and was once as high as 152%.)


© The Irish Field, 29th September 2012