“Derby, Derby, Derby,” declared David Hayes moments after Independent Road won Saturday’s $125,000 Hugh Bowman Hall of Fame Trophy (1400m) for two-year-olds at Flemington.
And it was easy to see why. Independent Road broke the clock with slick late sectionals on debut for second behind Leven Lass over 1400 metres at Bendigo.
Independent Road ($6) again settled in the second half of the field for his second start at Flemington under Jordan Childs and the race was slowly run – the first 800 metres only covered in 51.12 seconds.
However, Independent Road wasn't to be denied, coming widest of all in the straight and running his final 600 metres in 33.24 seconds – which included a split from the 400 to 200 metres in 10.62 seconds – to win by three-quarters of a length.
Leven Lass ($6.50) finished second while The Pugilist ($4.80) had to settle for his third consecutive minor placing when finishing third.
“I’m really excited, it was always going to be the worry the slow tempo today coming from last – only good horses can do that,” Hayes said, who prepares Independent Road in partnership with Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
“The figures he put out to be beaten at Bendigo were just excellent.
“To see it again tells me to back off now and set him for the (VRC) Derby in the spring. He was a bit better than I thought he was.”
Independent Road, a son of Declaration of War, was purchased for $50,000 from last year’s Magic Millions Gold Coast yearling sale.