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Hayes hoping Valac continues his winning ways over the jumps



Michael Manley

Co-trainer Ben Hayes is hoping Lindsay Park’s only jumper they have racing, Valac, can take out the feature jumps event, the 3YB FM Scotty Stewart Brierly Chase (3450 metres), at Warrnambool on Tuesday.

Hayes though has scuppered any plans of Valac running in the Grand Annual Steeplechase saying the grey almost white ten-year-old gelding is best suited at distances between 3200 metres and 3500 metres.

Last year Valac took out the Novice Hurdle on Grand Annual Steeplechase day and Hayes is hoping he can again take out a feature Warrnambool jumps event.

Valac made his fencing debut at his last start when he was a comfortable winner of the Ecycle Solutions BM125 over 3200 metres at Pakenham on Easter Monday.

Valac has had only four jumps starts and can boast three wins and a fourth in last year’s Australian Hurdle.

“The horse is in great order. He came out of his win well and it was always the plan to target this second up if he was to win. The plan came to fruition. He’s in good order,” Ben Hayes said.

Hayes said the weather forecast also looked suitable for Valac.

“It looks like the track’s not going to be too wet as the rain will come on Wednesday and Thursday. The drier the track the better for him. Soft will be a perfect track for him,” Hayes said.

“The distance of the Brierly suits him. Any further than 3500 metres he gets a stitch. He’s so dominant and he has such a good turn of foot over the shorter trip. He’ll be very competitive.”

He will again be ridden by promising jumps rider Aaron Mitchell who was successful on him at Pakenham.

In two years of riding over the jumps the 25 year-old Mitchell has won 11 of his 27 races.

Hayes said Lindsay Park often had a useful jumper in work and pointed out they had had success with Honey Steel's Gold and Extra Zero in recent years.

"It's a lot of fun having a talented jumper in our stable," he said.

He said after Tuesday, Valac would switch back to the hurdles and contest the Australian Hurdle at Sandown Lakeside on Sunday May 22.

The Warrnambool jumps carnival which culminates with the 150th running of the Grand Annual Steeplechase kicks off on Tuesday with three maiden hurdles.

The Brierly Chase has attracted a field of eight including 2019 winner and runner-up last year Bit Of A Lad for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.

Local trainer Symon Wilde will also be represented by promising fencers in Vanguard and Brittanicus who are both in the Grand Annual Steeplechase on Thursday.