The Hayden continues to attract a quality field with For Real Life and Free Thinker confirmed as the latest runners for the inaugural $231,000 race which will be held as part of the Queensland Constellations.
For Real Life has recorded five victories from 13 starts in his career so far, including last year’s Group 1 QBRED Triad 2YO Final, amassing more than $113,000 in prize money and bonuses.
The three-year-old will contest The Hayden on July 15 from barrier one at Albion Park, with Harshell Investments paying equal top price for the slot via auction.
Slot holder Harvey Kaplan said his discussions with driver-trainer Trent Dawson following the auction convinced him to lock in For Real Life for the new event.
“I’d never spoken or met Trent beforehand but he was fantastic from the outset, he told me what was happening with For Real Life and what the plan was,” Kaplan said.
“The horse just ticked a lot of boxes – Trent has just been a great guy to deal with the whole journey and I thought we could form a nice partnership and have a lot of fun so we locked him in.
“Trent obviously owns the horse and drives him and trains him, no-one knows the horse better than him.
“The horse is a really lightly-raced horse, and has outstanding gate speed so he can certainly take advantage of barrier one.
“He’s a horse that seems to be getting better and stronger each time so I think he’ll be a major force in the race in a couple of months’ time.
“I think it’s fantastic Racing Queensland is able to support its own product and give up their slot that they pay for to go into The Eureka, so I can’t imagine why anyone with a good horse wouldn’t want to target The Hayden.”
For Real Life will start The Hayden from barrier one.
Free Thinker will line up in barrier three in The Hayden, with slot holders GSM Racing locking in the highly rated three-year-old, who has posted five wins and eight placings from 16 starts.
GSM Racing’s Greg Mitchell said the race would suit the bay gelding.
“Going through the QBRED three-year-olds, I thought he was probably the most progressive and best three-year-old available so we went and spoke to the owner and came up with a plan,” Mitchell said.
“Being trained by Grant (Dixon) was obviously a significant bonus.
“I think Free Thinker is still coming forward, the bottom’s not there – I think he’s got good gate speed which is what we need.
“He’ll be in front at some stage, for how long who knows – that’ll be the plan, and the four-year-olds will have to chase us.
“It’s a good concept, I’m glad we’re doing something different – I think slot races have been overdone so to do a different style I think is what the market and the industry’s looking for.”
Racing Queensland’s Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick said he expected more quality runners to be confirmed for The Hayden soon.
“With over $230,000 in prize money on offer and a win guaranteeing entry into the Eureka, this race will be one not to be missed during the Queensland Constellations,” he said.
“As runners are required to be three and four-year-old QBRED pacers that are Queensland-trained and Queensland-driven, I’m looking forward to seeing who else will be signing up to run.
“We are expecting to confirm the remaining six slots for The Hayden shortly so watch this space.”
More than $3 million in prize money and bonuses will be up for grabs across seven weeks of the Constellations, which includes eight Group 1s.
Click here for more information on The Hayden.