By Trevor Marshallsea

Article – Anzbloodstock

Another day, another Group 1 for Australia’s latest people’s horse, Mr Brightside (Bullbars).

Continuing a rich tradition of turf stars to carry the Hayes dynasty’s white with green sash and black sleeves, Mr Brightside claimed another top tier success with an effortless stroll to a length-and-a-half win in yesterday’s Futurity Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) at Caulfield.

The six-year-old, the foundation stone of Lindsay Park’s third-generation Hayes Brothers, has now won six Group 1s – three of which have come over yesterday’s course. They sit alongside his three Group 2s, two of which were also at the Caulfield 1400-metre race.

He’s also run second in four Group 1s, and took out last year’s All–Star Mile (1600m) at The Valley, a crown he’ll defend on March 16 at Caulfield, where victory would send his earnings past $14 million on his 31st start.

Mr Brightside is closing on the eight Group 1s of Lindsay Park great Better Loosen Up (Loosen Up), trained by the Hayes brothers’ father David, and the six modern-day top-level wins scored by their grandfather Colin’s ill-fated superstar Dulcify (Decies) in the 1970s.

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Yesterday, the gelding showed again that he could overcome most tactics and challenges. He settled just worse than midfield in the eight-horse Futurity, while Celine Gaudray set a brave pace on another Caulfield 1400-metre specialist, Buffalo River (Noble Mission).

Mike Moroney’s eight-year-old was still four lengths ahead of Mr Brightside at 300 metres, but under hands-and-heels riding from Craig Williams, the $1.50 favourite soon erased the margin and came away to beat Godolphin’s Pericles (Street Boss) into second, with Buffalo River holding on for third.

Asked if Mr Brightside was now in the “champion” class, co-trainer Will Hayes said: “Well and truly.

“It’s so humbling every time we’re the ones who get to put a saddle on him, because when he can go out and run those sort of races, you’re gobsmacked every time.

“He’s so adaptable. Kudos to Celine and Buffalo River. Those were great tactics, and really made everyone think in the race. For him [Mr Brightside] to be able to absorb such high mid-race pressure, kick off and run a strong last 200 metres, it’s just champion qualities. It’s awesome.”

Williams agreed after his tenth win on Mr Brightside completed the first CF Orr Stakes (Gr 1, 1400m) – Futurity double since Black Heart Bart (Blackfriars) in 2017.

“He’s an amazing thoroughbred and we can call him a champion now without using that word too loosely. He’s well performed and just gets the job done all the time at the top level,” said Williams, who’s now earned $384,000 in prize-money share from 26 rides on the New Zealand-bred

“How can you knock him? He’s feared by his rivals. It’s a privilege for me, I get to jump on him. I guess I feel like [Formula 1 driver] Max Verstappen, just getting on him and spinning him around the track.”

In the absence of other potential pin-up gallopers, including one-time key rivals in the retired Anamoe (Street Boss), the injured Alligator Blood (All Too Hard) and the late I’m Thunderstruck (Shocking), Mr Brightside is fast assuming the mantle of Australia’s most popular equine athlete, a role helped by sharing his name with a hit song by a band with a title befitting his reputation on the track, The Killers.

“It’s very special, because a lot of people are getting behind Mr Brightside,” Williams said while bringing the horse back to scale. “I know the song, it’s on my iTunes playlist now.

“Even opposition trainers said ‘Good luck’ today, because they like seeing good horses going around. Mr Brightside, you’re a champion.”

Mr Brightside remains a highly conspicuous stand-out performer amongst the progeny of the obscure Bullbars (Elusive Quality), the Darley-bred stallion whose finest win came – appropriately – in the race named after the Hayes brothers’ legendary grandfather, the CS Hayes Stakes (Gr 3, 1400m).

The 16-year-old, who stood several seasons in New Zealand before returning to Australia in 2020, now stands at Orange Court stud for $9,900 (inc GST), which at least makes him the most expensive of the ten stallions listed as standing in South Australia. He covered fewer than 20 mares in each of his first three seasons back in Australia.

Aside from Mr Brightside’s two Group 1 wins, Bullbars has had seven runners in February with the highlight being Ella Kate’s fourth in a Friday maiden at Wanganui.

Bullbars’ other two career stakes winners, from 105 runners, are Contessa Vanessa, who won a Group 2 and a Listed in New Zealand, and Beauden, who won a Group 3 and two Listeds, also across the Tasman.

Mr Brightside is the third foal of the unraced Lilahjay (Tavistock), who now has a yearling daughter by Darci Brahma (Danehill). That filly’s sister sold for $70,000 to Trent Busuttin and First Light Racing at last year’s Karaka sale. Mr Brightside himself was bought for just $22,000 from the Karaka May Sale in 2019 by Phill Cataldo Bloodstock.

Meanwhile, in finishing in yesterday’s Futurity, Godolphin’s Pericles has earned himself an invitation to run in this season’s All-Star Mile.

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