Keen Array back to form in the Gilgai

The David Hayes/Tom Dabernig/Ben Hayes yard kept up their terrific strike rate this season with a big race double at Flemington, landing the big sprint of the day with Keen Array and the first two-year-old race of the Victorian season with Nomothaj.

Keen Array was a top drawer three-year-old short course horse two seasons ago, running second down the straight 1200 metres at Flemington in the group 1 Coolmore.

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Mark Zahra on Keen Array (left) winning race 4 on Saturday.

Mark Zahra on Keen Array (left) winning race 4 on Saturday. Photo: Mal Fairclough

But he had failed to establish himself in the top drawer of the country's sprinters in the two years since – until Saturday, when he showed plenty of class to lead throughout in the group 2 Gilgai Stakes under Mark Zahra.

In the end he only had the minimum margin to spare over the Queensland trained outsider Sold For A Song, who fought back to make it a real battle, with the West Australian Malibu Style taking third.

The disappointment of the race was the Sydney-trained favourite Spieth, who never got into the firing line and finished eighth of the nine starters.

Dabernig said that the son of Bel Esprit had disappointed connections at Caulfield with his last start fifth to Bons Away in a listed race, but the trainer felt that now, at his fifth run back from a spell, the big strong sprinter was only reaching peak fitness.


Now that he is in the winning groove the Hayes team will look to strike while the iron is hot through the spring carnival.

"He's a huge horse, just saddling him before the race I was commenting on how big he is," said Dabernig.

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"We may see him in a group 1. It's a good time of the year to have him in form and this opens up plenty of options.

"He's always gone OK down the straight, but I must admit after last start at Caulfield we were scratching our head a little bit.

"I think he's just taken a bit longer to get fit, he's a massive horse and he had a really long spell."

Kevin Kemp, the trainer of the runner up, was proud of his mare's efforts.

"It was her first time down the straight and her rider Jimmy Orman's first time down the straight too. Both have done us proud.

"If she trains on she will go to the Tristarc at Caulfield over 1400 metres, then hopefully into the Myer Stakes during Cup week. If she doesn't make the Myer field we will go to the 1400m mares race on Cup day.

"She's had 22 starts and 20 of them have been in group or listed races, so I haven't missed her, I have kept her up to the mark."

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