Doc books his appointment for Guineas

Trainer Tony McEvoy says Hey Doc “has to” go the Group 1 Australian Guineas in two weeks after a dominant display in Saturday’s Group 3 C.S. Hayes Stakes at Flemington.

At his first try over 1400m the three-year-old gelding, which started favourite, jumped perfectly, took a sit off the leaders under jockey Luke Currie before exploding away from the chasing pack over the final 300m to stamp his quality.

McEvoy, who gelded Hey Doc before a spring campaign last year which netted a Group 2 win in the Stutt Stakes and a third place in the Caulfield Guineas, was excited by what he saw on Saturday in his second start this campaign.

After collecting his fifth win in 11 starts, Hey Doc now sits at $4 TAB favourite for the Guineas which will require stepping back up to 1600m, and McEvoy is happy to try again.

“First time I have had him at 1400m, he’s been great at 1200m, OK at a mile (1600m) but bad barriers haven’t helped, and he was explosive today. It was very exciting to watch,” McEvoy said.

“He drew well, he flew the gates, and Luke (Currie) was happy. He knows this horse, he trusts him, he has faith in him and he gave him a beautiful ride and had a tremendous kick.

“He could (go to a whole new level). He’s a real proper 1400m horse the way he travelled and quickened today. He really impressed me.

“He’s got to go to the Guineas on that. We’ll try him again at a mile.

“The times he has been at a mile he hasn’t drawn well. If he can draw a gate, as we saw, he’s got good speed, and he can get in a controlling position. We’ll go to the Group 1.”

McEvoy conceded the decision to geld Hey Doc last winter had paid dividends.

“I just know if I had of been gelded early, I could have been anything. That’s why I gelded him,” he said.

He also paid tribute to Currie, whose ride on Hey Doc was his only one at Flemington yesterday, which surprised McEvoy. Currie has ridden Hey Doc in eight of his 11 starts, for three wins.

“Luke is a very good rider. I am surprised more people don’t use him,” he said.

“He works hard, is a very good person, he is a very good judge of pace and I am very happy to use him.”

Saturday’s win was that little bit more special for McEvoy too, given he was a 33-year employee of the Hayes family, including working as foreman to legendary trainer Colin Hayes, after whom the race was named.

“I wanted to be in the will, but I don’t think I am,” he joked.

“C.S (Hayes) treated me like a son. They have been a great family to me and I love them dearly.

“This (trophy) will go on the mantle for sure.”

Godolphin runner Morton’s Fork retained $11 second favouritism for the Australian Guineas after running fourth behind Hey Doc.

News from Russell Gould, Sunday Herald Sun

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