Moonee Valley

3rd September 2022

Ben and JD Hayes

Bullbars/Lilahjay (NZ)

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Article – Justhorseracing

Lindsay Park trainers Ben and J D Hayes have some thinking to do after Mr Brightside took out the Feehan Stakes at Moonee Valley.

Saturday’s victory in the Group 2 weight-for-age race over 1600m provides Mr Brightside with a ballot exemption into the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at The Valley on October 22.

There is also an added $1 million bonus should Mr Brightside be successful but lingering in the background is the Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) a week earlier.

The Hayes boys’ father David trained Better Loosen Up to win both the Feehan Stakes and Cox Plate and he has said there are similarities between the pair.

Ridden by Craig Williams, Mr Brightside, the $1.65 favourite, raced away to a 4-½ length win from Inspirational Girl ($6) with Spanish Mission ($8.50) three-quarters-of-a-length away third.

“He’s been such a special horse for Lindsay Park and Ben and I,” J D Hayes said.

“He’s come at the right time and that was such a perfect ride. It all fell into place and he showed a nice turn of foot and thankfully it turned out how it looked on paper.

“There is still the option of the Caulfield Cup. We’ll sit down with the team and work it out, but the good thing about having a horse like him is that we can point him at these options.”

Brother Ben said the victory eclipsed his win in the Group 1 Doncaster Handicap in the autumn, adding the gelding will only continue to improve while at the same time is looking for more ground.

“As we know the further he gets into the preparation the better he gets,” Ben said.

“He’ll put his hand up for the Cox Plate.”

Williams has been associated with Mr Brightside in his last 13 starts for nine wins and has noted the improvement the gelding has made throughout his campaigns.

“I know we always relate to horses and say they won at handicap (level), but I guess if you’re winning a Cantala and you’re winning the Doncaster, they are the pinnacle of handicaps around Australia,” Williams said.

“And year after year these horses have made the next step to weight-for-age where there is no hiding spots, there is no handicap.

“They’re on their weight due to their age and their sex and he have to make that next step because of his rating, and you can see this preparation he clearly has.”

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