Spotlight On: The Hayden

The Queensland Winter Carnival continues to get bigger and better, year after year. The depth is getting deeper while the chances of claiming Group 1 glory is becoming harder and harder.

That being said, it doesn’t stop anyone from trying to reach their Everest.

And locals have a brand-new race to consider.

The Hayden, named after Kingaroy’s own Matthew Hayden, will act as Racing Queensland’s qualifying race to determine its slot holder into the inaugural $2.1 million The TAB Eureka at Menangle on September 2.

The race will be run exclusively for three and four-year-old pacers over 2138m at Albion Park on Saturday, July 15.

This race will be restricted to QBRED-only horses, both trained and driven by local participants.

Originally, The Hayden will be run for $100,000 in stakes, with proceeds from the slot auction to contribute further to the prize money pool.

Racing Queensland devised the novel way of launching The Hayden by auctioning barrier slots for the race at the Ladbrokes Sunshine Stars Yearling Sales on the Gold Coast back in March.

The monies raised from the slot auction will see the inaugural edition racing for a grand total of $231,000, leaving RQ officials extremely pleased.

Harshell Investments splurged $19,000 for barrier one, which was equal top price with barrier five (bought by Panasonic Studio Productions).

The key to the auction was that certain barriers were restricted to specific types of horses, for example barrier one must be filled by a three-year-old filly, colt or gelding.

Barrier five was so popular because it’s the best draw available to all four-year-olds, meaning a mare, entire or gelding.

The Hayden will take its place in the 2023 Queensland Constellations Carnival—run as a part of RQ’s NAIDOC celebrations—playing a small but critical role in the Queensland racing industry’s journey towards reconciliation.

RQ will partner with The Hayden Way to generate funds for Shoreline, which has provided education and employment opportunities for Indigenous students since 2009.

The state’s best pacer, Leap To Fame, is not eligible nor is his stablemate, Tims A Trooper, given they’re NSW-bred while proven Group 1 winner Teddy Disco has been ruled out owing to him spelling.

Star filly Jewel Melody is eligible but needed to be under the care of a local trainer by April 1. That didn’t eventuate, which ultimately rules her out of the event.

Shelley and Harvey Kaplan paid equal top price for barrier one at The Hayden auction.

So, who are the leading contenders?

Firstly, let’s look at the four-year-olds.

Captain Shuffles: An untapped talent, a Group 1 winner of the QBRED Triad last year at only his 11th race start. Beaten in his first two outings before finding confidence with victories at Redcliffe and Marburg before ending his year with four straight victories, culminating in Triad Glory at Albion Park. A gelded son of the hottest sire on planet, he could develop into something special?

Speak The Truth: Another untapped talent cut down by injury last year, meaning he missed the Derby classics among other features. Boasting an unbelievable pedigree and talent to match, he could easily be classified as the ‘sleeper’ for the Hayden. Seven wins from 12 starts and Group 1-placed as a two-year-old, here’s hoping for a trouble-free campaign.

Dangerzone: A proven feature race winner and Group 1-placed already at Albion Park, he’s prepared by the leading trainer in the state (Jack Butler). This gangly-yet-big-striding pacer oozes quality and can match it with the very best. With time and maturity, he could easily take another step-up and realise his full potential.

Awaywego:  The Group 1 winner of the QBRED Triad as a two-year-old probably struggled to maintain the rage last year, although he did win five races. A younger half-brother to the track record holder in Blacksadance, he’s too good to dismiss.

My Ultimate Levi: A proven Group 1 winner at Albion Park as a two-year-old winning the APG Gold Brisbane Graduates Final. Recent racing has been carried out south of the border but returns to his home state and this event is an obvious target.

Cat King Cole: This livewire filly set tongues wagging during her rookie campaign, winning six of her nine starts including the Group 1 QBRED Triad. Unfortunately, her three-year-old season was basically over before it began, so, who knows what to expect when she returns? But we all know the ability is obvious.

Racy Roxy: A rock solid mare and multiple proven big race winner at Albion Park, versatile and follows speed very well. Part of a leading stable and warrants respect every time she steps onto a racetrack.

Speak The Truth has been locked in for The Hayden.

And the three-year-olds:

Could a three-year-old upstage their older rivals? It’s yet to happen in the Rising Sun.

Cheer Leader: A classy filly building a neat record with six wins from 11 starts. She missed the main juvenile features last year before winning six of seven starts before heading for a break at the end of the year. Unplaced in both efforts as a three-year-old and yet to be proven beyond a mile, this filly can’t be ignored.

For Real Life: The QBRED Triad winner last year when leading throughout, this big leggy colt will attract plenty of interest. He suffered issues when resuming earlier this year before immediately being put away again, he’s part of an emerging stable and deserves respect.

Free Thinker: A genuine quiet achiever, he’s a three-year-old that has jumped every hurdle put in front of him to date. His only unplaced effort to date was his sixth placing in the Group 1 NSW Derby at Menangle back in March. Rates highly.

Haveyoucheckedin: Group 3-placed already and a proven Albion Park performer, this rangy youngster owns very good gate speed. Could be a contender in what shapes as an open affair.

Come July, this list could look vastly different, so it will be fascinating to see who lines up and who’s representing who in the inaugural edition.

Last October, Racing Queensland was announced as one of 10 inaugural slot holders in the world’s richest harness race, ensuring a Sunshine State star will represent Queensland in the new $2.1 million feature for the next three years.

The 2400m race, set to be run at Club Menangle for the first time on September 2, is restricted to Australian-born three and four-year-old pacers.


By Racing Queensland