Trainer Ben Hayes believes his Group One winner Mr Brightside has turned from a boy into a man over summer.
The Lindsay Park horseman, who trains in partnership with his brother JD, has been rapt with the way the New Zealand-bred five-year-old has returned to their barn following a break after his spring preparation, and he is looking forward to heading to the Gr.1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) first-up at Sandown on Saturday.
“I really feel this time in he has developed and strengthened from spring to autumn,” Ben Hayes told RSN.
“He is looking more like a weight-for-age horse, whereas in the spring he looked a bit like a boy taking on the big boys.
“I am hoping this prep he can improve that length he needs to and be competitive with all of those horses.
“To my eye he showed that in his trial at Geelong – he was electric, showed a good turn of foot, and has come through it excellent.”
Mr Brightside will have his work cut out for him this weekend after drawing the outside barrier in the 10-horse field.
“He loves a wide draw in the big races,” Hayes said. “It is a relatively small field and a very awkward draw.
“We will have to have a chat with Craig (Williams, jockey) and see what we can do because the one thing with Mr Brightside is he does have a great turn of foot.
“I think if he gets the right run from that awkward draw, he will be very competitive.”
Hayes is also looking forward to stablemate Little Brose contesting the Gr.3 Blue Diamond Prelude (1100m) on the undercard.
The two-year-old son of Per Incanto has already made an impression in his first two starts when runner-up on debut in the Gr.3 Maribyrnong Plate (1000m) before winning the Listed Merson Cooper Stakes (1000m).
“Little Brose has been fantastic,” Hayes said. “His last trial at Geelong was a real eye-catcher. I am surprised at the odds he has opened up ($9).
“He won hands and heels in the stakes race last start and has trained on beautifully, I can’t fault him.
“He is only going to get better once he gets out over further. He has a lovely, big action and has developed nicely.”