Sovereign Nation getting to Theanswermyfriend (right) in the closing stages (Image: Racing Photos)
Less than half a length separated the first five horses home in the March Stakes at Flemington on Saturday but such are the winning ways of the Lindsay Park stable it came as no surprise to see one of their charges, Sovereign Nation, sneak home by centimetres.
In an amazing drive to the line, Damien Oliver guided Sovereign Nation ($15) home by a short-half head over the $2.60 favourite Theanswermyfriend, with a nose to Seaburge ($31) in third then a short head to Wyndspelle ($17) in fourth and a short head to Overshare ($5.50) in fifth.
The stable of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig has been on fire throughout the autumn in Melbourne and Ben Hayes said the win came after 'an Ollie special'.
"He rode that an absolute treat," Hayes said. "He looked the winner 200 out and he just got there."
Hayes explained that normally horses of the ilk of Sovereign Nation and Seaburge would have contested the Blamey Stakes, but the stable decided to take an easier option in the hope the out-of-form pair could improve.
"They weren't quite in form and it was a pretty hot race the Blamey and we elected just to place them a little easy and we got the result," he said.
"Dad commented before last start he didn't quite look right but in between runs he's just looked that little bit better in the coat."
Seaburge resurrected his career after a spate of poor runs.
"Seaburge was fantastic," Hayes said. "It was good to see him showing flashbacks of his three-year-old season."
Sovereign Nation last spring ran fourth in the Caulfield Group 1s of the Rupert Clarke Stakes and Toorak Handicap and so will head to next month's Victoria Handicap over 1400 metres at the track.
Earlier, the stable had two runners in the Thoroughbred Breeders Stakes at Flemington. David Hayes gave the winner a pass mark and the loser a big tick.
The horse to get the pass mark was Shadwell Stud's Khulaasa, who prevailed by a short head at the odds of $2.20. A further long neck back was the 'tick' horse Cristal Eyes, who started at $12.
When asked if he was being a little harsh on the winner after she held off late challengers, Hayes replied: "Look, it's always great to get a Stakes win with a filly like her, but she's shown us so much more at home.
"She's much better than what you saw today."
Khulaasa controlled the race for much of the 1200m but late she wobbled a little and just held off a determined lunge from Krone ($7.50) while Cristal Eyes made good ground late from near the tail of the field.
Khulaasa will get the chance to win back favour with her trainer in Sydney in the G2 $600,000 Percy Sykes Stakes on Day 2 of The Championships at Randwick on April 14.