Hayes: Vega still has magic for Everest
TRAINER David Hayes believes Vega Magic can push his case for a start in The Everest for a third successive year when he starts his spring campaign at Caulfield on Saturday.
It will also be the third year in a row Vega Magic will begin his spring at Caulfield and Hayes believes he's as good, if not better, than the past two years, which both began with easy wins at the circuit.
Vega Magic will run in The Heath 1100 Stakes and Hayes is confident, pending a firm track, he can improve on his Caulfield record of three wins and a fourth.
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"We just need a firm track," Hayes said. "If he gets that then I think we'll see him as good, if not better, than he's ever been."
Hayes said Vega Magic needed to put his hand up on Saturday if he was to gain another Everest slot.
"As for The Everest? No one is going to be interested in him until he's back and firing but I think they'll notice him on Saturday," he said.
Vega Magic ran an unlucky second in the inaugural Everest before he floundered last year on a heavy track. If he wins, he would take a step to securing a slot in this year's $14 million Everest as The Heath is part of the MRC's Everest series.
Victory on Saturday would secure a start in the Schillaci Stakes on October 12 and the winner of that race is guaranteed the MRC's slot in The Everest.
Hayes' confidence was buoyed by a recent Flemington jump-out down the straight on August 12 where the seven-year-old thrashed his rivals by six lengths, running 47.77 seconds for 800m, easily the fastest of the eight heats.
"Ollie (Damien Oliver) said he felt as good as ever had," Hayes said. "No one got near him in his jump-out and I've kept him ticking along since."
Hayes will also have two starters in the Memsie Stakes on Saturday - So Si Bon and Fundamentalist. Hayes believes this is the campaign where So Si Bon can graduate to being a consistent Group 1 performer.
"He's back for his second campaign as a gelding and I always think the second campaign is the best one as a gelding," he said.
"His first-up win in the Aurie's Star didn't surprise me as that's how he's been working. I think he'll establish himself as a Group 1 performer this time in."
Hayes was also happy with the first-up run of Fundamentalist when she finished third in the Regal Roller Stakes at Caufield.
"She's come on nicely and she's finished in the placing five times in Group 1 races so she's at home at that level."