By Michael Manley
Ben Hayes was happy his grey gelding Valac was able to win the opening event at Warrnambool, the Hammonds Paint Novice Hurdle, and continue a family tradition of having a successful jumper in their yard.
Hayes said it was a big thrill to win the race and he praised the ride of Tommy Ryan assessing it as “excellent.”
“He got him into a lovely position, he got him out at the right time and he was really strong to the line with a good challenge from Eckhart,” Hayes said.
Hayes said Valac had needed plenty of schooling to get him ready for jumps racing and also work to get him to his required fitness to compete in hurdle races.
He said Ryan helped with the schooling and also riding work for him.
Hayes said the Lindsay Park training empire had always had one or two jumpers in the stable and he also enjoyed training them.
Ryan described Valac, who has now had two hurdle starts for two wins, as an exciting jumper.
“He does everything on the bridle. He’s the nearest thing to driving a rally car.”
Valac defeated Eckhart ($2.90) by two and a quarter lengths with Zoffany Rocket ($15) nine lengths away third.