New Zealand-bred galloper Mr Brightside has started his new campaign in winning style, with the five-year-old gelding pulling out too many stops to land the Gr.2 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on Saturday.
The son of Bullbars has been a winning machine since crossing the Tasman and joining the stable of Ben and JD Hayes, with eight wins from 13 starts for the brothers and A$2.6 million in prizemoney, highlighted by his win in the Gr.1 Doncaster Handicap (1600m).
Settling just behind the pace under a perfect Craig Williams ride, Mr Brightside showed he was in for another good campaign, pinning the ears back to defy runner-up I Am Superman after overhauling the pace-making Buffalo River, who finished third.
The exciting galloper has now ticked a box he previously hadn’t – winning first up – and he looks in for a good campaign.
Winning trainer Ben Hayes couldn’t hide his admiration for the horse.
“The horse is super special for JD and I. He put us on the map,” he said.
“It was a great ride by Craig and boy he was tough. He was right in for the fight and I think that is really exciting going forward because he wasn’t wound up today. He has definitely announced himself.
“To win first-up, something he hasn’t done for us and really knuckle-down and stretch out like that is exciting. It is a big thrill. He has had a really smooth preparation and I wish they were all like him.”
Mr Brightside will now head to the Gr.2 Feehan Stakes (1600m) at The Valley on September 3 before a decision looms between a Gr.1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) or Gr.1 Cox Plate (2040m) tilt.
The Kiwi import was originally trained by Ralph Manning in Cambridge, for whom he ran a luckless fifth in his sole New Zealand start at Matamata before being sold privately to clients of the Hayes stable via Australian agent Wayne Ormond.
Manning and good friends Shaun Dromgool and Ray Johnson purchased Mr Brightside as an unraced two-year-old off gavelhouse.com for just $7,750, with some insight into the youngster.
Johnson, with his late wife Martha, had bred and sold the son of Bullbars as a yearling at the 2019 New Zealand Bloodstock May Sale for $22,000 via Janine Dunlop’s Phoenix Park before he had failed to meet his $50,000 reserve when re-offered at the New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale.
Later an opportunity arose to buy him back off online auction gavelhouse.com and despite being aware the horse had a few tricks, Johnson jumped at the opportunity to buy back in.
Out of the Tavistock mare Lilahjay, Mr Brightside is a half-brother to Will Power, an eight-time winner in Hong Kong.
Lilahjay is in turn out of the Keeper mare Keepable, a half-sister to multiple Group One winner Foxwood and Group Three winner Rockwood. She has a yearling filly by Darci Brahma