The C S Hayes Stakes is a Group 3 race staged by the Victoria Racing Club at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.
It is typically run in the early part of February and is gender-restricted to colts and geldings and age-restricted to three-year-olds.
Prize money is currently $160,000 and the race is under set weights plus penalties conditions.
History of the C S Hayes Stakes
The current name of the race pays homage to legendary Thoroughbred trainer Colin Hayes. He was granted legend status by the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2018. Colin Hayes is, as of 2021, one of three trainers to achieve legend status, the others being Bart Cummings and T J Smith.
It is tempting to speculate if Chris Waller, dragged by Winx, might someday make it to legend status, but he has some work remaining until that time. The interesting facet of that speculation is that Waller was inducted into the Hall the same year of 2018 that saw Colin Hayes elevated to legend.
The race distance is 1400 metres since 2013, but when it was first run in 1987, it was 1400 metres. The trip ping-ponged back and forth over the years, as short as 1200 metres for the races held in 1990 and 2007, the year it was held at Moonee Valley Racecourse. The current trip is right in that spot between the pure sprinters and those with aspirations of moving up to a mile.
The only other year the race was not held at Flemington, aside from 2007 at Moonee Valley, was 1997, when it was held at Sandown Racecourse.
The race was known as The Debonair when it made its debut in 1987. It was known as the Vanuatu Stakes for 1994 only. There have been a couple of Australian horses by that name, but neither had the sort of accomplishments that would warrant a race being named after them. The name may refer to an island nation off the northeast coast of Australia that became the Republic of Vanuatu in 1980.
There was a song commemorating the country by Australian pop singer Olivia Newton John…hold on. Scrap that, her song was Xanadu.
Very similar sounding pronunciation.
The race reverted to The Debonair in 1995 and remained so until 2008, when it became the C S Hayes Stakes.
Flemington Racecourse, often referred to as “headquarters,” is the most famous track in Australia, a cultural heritage site and an icon that is instantly recognisable, along the lines of Royal Ascot in Great Britain or Churchill Downs in the U.S.
Without doubt, the Melbourne Cup is the race most closely associated with Flemington Racecourse. Other notable races are the Australian Cup, the Victoria Derby and the Newmarket Handicap.
Flemington, as of early 2021, stages 13 Group 1, 10 Group 2 and 14 Group 3 races.
The Flemington Straight sometimes referred to as “the Straight Six,” harkening back to the days when a 1200-metre race would have been described as six furlongs, is a notable aspect of the course. It is used for sprint races of 1200 metres and under, which includes the Group 1s Ascot Vale Stakes, the Newmarket Handicap and The VRC Sprint Classic.
Racing History of the C S Hayes Stakes
The C S Hayes Stakes has always been a Group 3 race. Not many colts make it beyond the age of three without being shifted into the gelding category. Those that do are often taken off the track and sent to stud careers. The list of winners is not loaded with significant horses.
Notable winners from the early years, however, are indeed notable.
Zabeel won in 1990. He was trained by Colin Hayes for two years, and then shifted to Colin’s son David. He was a New Zealand horse foaled in 1986 at Cambridge Stud. He made 19 starts for seven wins and five placings, earning over $1.1 million. He won two Group 1 races, both at Flemington-the Australian Guineas and the Craiglee Stakes, both in that same year of 1990.
Zabeel survived his racing career intact and his bigger contribution to the Sport of Kings was as a sire. His progeny far outstripped him on the track and the names of those progeny tell all.
Octagonal, winner of nearly $6 million. Vengeance Of Rain, another winner of over $5 million, mainly in Hong Kong, where prizemoney is substantially higher than in Australia, was another notable descendant of Zabeel.
Zabeel also sired Might And Power, a winner of the Melbourne Cup, the Caulfield Cup, both in 1997, and the 1998 Cox Plate.
Another Melbourne Cup winner was Efficient in 2007. Jezabeel won the Melbourne Cup in 1998.
Several other Zabeel offspring won Caulfield Cups, Cox Plates and a host of other significant races.
Zabeel was named Leading Sire in Australia in 1998 and 1999. He copped the New Zealand equivalent of that award from 1998 through 2001.
All told, Zabeel sired 153 stakes winners of 350 stakes races.
The major wins alone are in the realm of $50 million.
The next significant winner of the C S Hayes Stakes was Mahogany in 1994. This horse had no wooden legs. He began as a sprinter aimed at staying races and the aim was true, as Mahogany won the Victoria Derby and the Australian Derby under the tutelage of Lee Freedman and owned by Lloyd Williams and Kerry Packer.
Mahogany won over $3.6 million from 43 starts for 19 wins and 12 placings. He was Australian Champion Three Year Old and Australian Horse of the year form 1993 – 1994.
More recent years have seen the names of C S Hayes Stakes winners grow in lustre.
The 2014 winner, Hucklebuck, won the Group 1 Emirates Stakes that same year, beating Lucky Hussler. Hucklebuck was the South Australian Horse of the Year in 2015.
Hey Doc was the winner in 2017. He won four Group 1 races, including two Manikato Stakes, the first in 2017 and the second in 2020. Like Hucklebuck, Hey Doc was a South Australian Horse of the Year, for 2016 – 2017.
A horse with the unappealing name of Grunt won in 2018, the same year he would go on to win at Group 1 level in the Australian Guineas and the Makybe Diva Stakes.
Alligator Blood won in 2020. He won nine of his first 10 starts and aside from a disqualification, a 10th in the All Star Mile where he jumped favourite, and a 15th in the Golden Eagle, he won or placed in all of his races.
The C S Hayes Stakes seems to be gaining better fields, although the opportunities for male horses racing in gender-restricted races seem to be going the way of staying races, fewer all the time.
Australian Thoroughbred racing seems to be dominated by fillies and mares, so it is nice to have a race where the boys can go against one another without the pressure to impress the ladies.
The C S Hayes Stakes is one punters like to plunge on and the form gurus are always paying attention for insights into the bigger autumn races that follow, or even to try to identify a future champion-breeding stallion, such as Zabeel.
|Year||CS Hayes Stakes Winners|
|2012||That The One|
|2010||Take The Rap|
|2002||Dash For Cash|
|1996||El Qahira's Son|