by Ross Stanley
Last November apprentice Greg Hayes opened his account when the Stewart Barr prepared Endless Puzzle took out the $10,000 Digger’s Cup at Gympie.
Since then, the 38 year-old has chalked up wins at Goondiwindi with Corder for Ben Robinson and at Nanango with Endless Don, while Endlesss Puzzle repeated the dose for him at Gympie earlier in March.
This season Greg has taken up opportunities to compete at Roma, Surat, Tara Isisford, Longreach, Chinchilla and Texas.
Nearer home, he also sported silk at Bundaberg, Wondai, Gayndah, Mount Perry, Eidsvold, Beaudesert and Esk last Saturday.
The tally from his last 50 bookings stands at four wins and ten placings.
Given that he lives in Gympie and is indentured to Caloundra trainer Robert Wilson, there has been an incredible amount of travelling involved getting to and from those venues.
An horrific car accident that involved a semi trailer in 2000 and a serious fall at the Sunshine Coast in 2016 forced breaks of a decade and eight months respectively from his riding profession.
Apart from tagging along as a youngster with his father Keith at race meetings, Greg’s background in equine matters was zilch.
“Dad eventually took me seriously when I kept saying I wanted to be a jockey. We went fact-finding and toured Gold Coast stables,” said Hayes.
Along the way, his jobs have included factory work, labouring and boiler-making.
The mature age “junior” has reduced his weight and presently can ride at 54.5 kilograms.
He obviously knows how to put in the hard yards.
Pat Duff, Barry Gill and Trevor Thomas were some of the trainers he rode work for early on.
Greg is also ultra-keen on another form of horsepower – he does up old cars such as Fords from the pre-1970s.
Given his dedication to date, no one would begrudge his going through the gears and motoring home on a string of gallopers in the near future.
Hivesville horseman Peter Blackwell picked up the thick end of the prize with Navillus Dolly ($13) in the half mile Maiden at Esk last Saturday.
The Strategic mare, piloted by Jason Hoopert, downed Destiny’s Mate ($4), Glenn Richardson’s representative in a tight finish.
The four-year-old, wearing winkers, was fit for the chore after three unplaced results at the Sunshine Coast and a fourth placing at Gympie.
Benovsky ($3.80), prepared at Woodford by Shane and Adam Barling, has shown the benefit of his recent run into second spot in the BM 50 at Nanango.
The son of New Approach (Ire) and Slovakia (USA) scored at Esk in the Class B Handicap (1200 m) when handled by Cecily Eaton.
Hannah Phillips and Stewart Barr teamed up to earn the the minor money with Joyfily.
Elsewhere on the program, Phillips reached a milestone when she saluted on A Bear In There ($2.40) for the Matthew Park stable in the Des Moore Memorial QTIS Maiden.
The Nanango apprentice has now outridden her country claim.
Kelvin Hickmott, the trainer who spent youthful days in the Burnett, kicked off his day at the Gold Coast last weekend with his $101 shot Instant’s Honour missing out in the opener, the Maiden (1800m), by a mere length.
His stocks improved a few hours later when Gina Mitchell booted home the favourite War Baby in the BM 75 Handicap (1300m).
Some upcoming Non-TAB fixtures: Bundaberg (March 17), Nanango (Easter Saturday), Gympie (April 14) and Wondai (Anzac Day).
Despite his narrow loss to Aylmerton in the Todman Stakes at Randwick, Brisbane colt Ef Troop (Corey Brown) showed he has progressed since his Magic Millions appearance.
He settled well and fought strongly.
The males’ trial for the Slipper was decided in 1.08.84 while the filly Estijaab took 1.09.1 for the metric six on a Good 4 in the Reisling Stakes.
On the other hand, the girls – who were faster than the boys over the final 600 metres – do get a pull in the weights when they all run for the golden footwear on March 24.
Just over three months ago, Crack Me Up’s gutsy victory in the 2017 ATC Villiers Stakes for Liam Birchley’s Brisbane yard carried a ballot-free ticket to next month’s ATC Doncaster Handicap.
Judging by the successful effort of the four-year-old by Mossman from Chuckle in the Liverpool City Cup at Randwick at the beginning of the month, a Doncaster triumph is not beyond him.
Although Warwick Farm trainer Bjorn Baker now applies the polish, Crack Me Up will still be regarded as a northerner.
During the 2017 winter carnival, the bay filled second notch in the Wayne Wilson Handicap (Listed,1600m) and picked up the Sunshine Coast Guineas (Gr 3,1600m) as well as the Tatts Mile (Listed, 1600m).
If it comes to omens, his initial win was in April 2016 in the TTC $100,000 Listed Plate named for Dalrello, the 1975 Doncaster hero.
Feeling down on your luck? You may feel better if told that, from the March 3 to March 10, Chris Waller had 50 or so starters.
The only winners were Winx in the Chipping Norton Stakes and Saint Katrina in a Newcastle Maiden.