Port Guillaume

Port Guillaume has settled into life in Australia (Image: Racing Photos)

From France to Flemington

BY MICHAEL MANLEY

Ben Hayes would love nothing more than to see his name as a winning trainer of a Lexus Melbourne Cup.

For that matter he said his cousin and training partner Tom Dabernig was equally as keen.

“There’s nothing Tom and I would love more than to be holding that Cup on the first Tuesday in November. If it’s not this year we’ll keep working towards it next year and the year after that and we will be trying very hard,” Hayes said.

“It’s Australia’s most famous race. When you’re overseas, overseas trainers know only one Australian race.”

“To say I’m a trainer who has won a Melbourne Cup and have it on my mantelpiece would be the ultimate.”

Since Ben Hayes joined the family training operation, alongside Tom and his father David in 2016, they've had a runner every year with the best result a sixth with Almoonqith in his first year.

Last year they saddled up three runners which were Constantinople, Neufbosc and Rostropovich.

Lindsay Park has won the race three times with three Northern Hemisphere bred gallopers. Colin Hayes, Ben and Tom’s grandfather trainer Beldale Ball (1980) and At Talaq (1986) to win the Cup and David trained Jeune to win in 1994.

This year Dabernig and Hayes will be trying to continue that family tradition of Northern Hemisphere bred Lexus Melbourne Cup winners with the only horse they have in contention which is French import Port Guillaume.

Hayes went to Werribee on Tuesday morning and liked what he saw.

 “He cantered around the track. He travelled well. He’s a straight forward horse and a typically athletic French horse,” Hayes said.

Port Guillaume has had six starts and won four races in France although he finished last at his last start at Longchamp.

Hayes said Port Guillaume over-raced last start in a fiercely run contest and that run should be overlooked.

Port Guillaume was sold to Hong Kong owner Edmond Lee and client of David Hayes after he won the Prix Hocquart at Deauville two starts ago.

“He disappointed last start but before that he was obviously very competitive. He’s a Northern Hemisphere three-year-old and they have a great record in the Melbourne Cup,” Hayes said.

Port Guillaume spent two weeks at Newmarket in quarantine under the care of Jane Chapple-Hyam before flying out to Australia.

Hayes said in many ways it was business as usual with David having relocated to Hong Kong.

“David’s only three hours behind us in Hong Kong so I can contact him almost anytime. The only real difference is that it’s Tom and my name in the racebook.”

Port Guillaume is currently number 13 in the Lexus Melbourne Cup order of entry and he has 52.5kg. He will make his Australian debut in Saturday week’s Caulfield Cup where he will be ridden by Willie Pike.