A switch from weight-for-age to handicap company is the spark David Hayes is looking for with Petrology ahead of his Group One contest at Caulfield.
After three weight-for-age runs to begin his campaign, Petrology faces up to a tough handicap contest in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes on Saturday.
But after a last-start ninth behind Boban in the Memsie Stakes last month, Petrology drops 6.5kg for this 1400m contest and will be ridden by apprentice Jye McNeil.
Petrology will be joined by stablemates Gregers and Fast `N’ Rocking in a race that has undergone a number of name changes over the years.
It is a race Lindsay Park has won four times in the past 30 years with Hayes’ father Colin winning with Trichelle in 1985 and brother Peter with Cut Up Rough in 1997.
Hayes himself has won the race on two occasions with Barely A Moment (2005) and Rewaaya the year after and will be looking for a third Group One success since teaming up with nephew Tom Dabernig.
The pair earlier this year won the Australian Cup with Spillway before Criterion won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes in Sydney.
While the three Lindsay Park runners may be outsiders, Hayes is confident the trio will run well under the handicap conditions, especially Petrology.
“I gave him a bit of a freshen-up and decided to dodge the weight-for-age race and go for the handicap,” Hayes said.
“It might be a masterstroke or we’ve missed a couple of races because he’s on the minimum.
“He’s in really good order and his final gallop was great last Monday.”
Fast `N’ Rocking is yet to win at a trip beyond 1300m, but Hayes thinks the 1400m will suit.
The son of Fastnet Rock hit the line strongly when a last-start fifth behind Fell Swoop over 1200m at Moonee Valle.
“He’s drawn well and trackwork in the build-up has been excellent,” Hayes said.
Gregers is no stranger to 1400m success at Caulfield winning at the corresponding meeting two years ago.
The mare hasn’t been successful since winning the Cockram Stakes at Caulfield 13 months ago, but Hayes says she will enjoy a fast pace.
“Against the boys last start up the straight she was competitive,” he said.
“With the logical fast tempo she will get a lovely run right on the pace and make her own luck with no weight.”