A partnership forged in the cauldron that is Hong Kong racing produced a big payoff with the win of Barely a Moment in the Dubai Racing Club Cup (Aus-I) at Caulfield on Sept. 17.
Trainer David Hayes and jockey Craig Williams combined for 16 race wins in Hong Kong in the final three of Hayes' 10 seasons in the former British colony.
This $350,000 (Australian funds) feature handicap win is likely to prove a significant milestone.
On a slushy track favoring on-pace runners, Williams placed his mount eighth of the 17 runners. He guided the talented Gilded Time
colt to the lead through heavy traffic in the stretch and the 7-1 chance held off the Hong Kong-based Super Kid (40-1) to win by a length in 1:25.76 for the 1,400 meters. Heavy-track specialist Sky Cuddle (16-1) was a neck away in third.
Bred in New Zealand, by Sallust horse Gaius, Super Kid has earned $17 million (Hong Kong funds) for Wong Yuk Kwan under the care of Australian trainers John Size and, currently, John Moore. It was an impressive Australian debut from the W.S. Cox Plate (Aus-I) aspirant.
Apart from Williams' elation of landing his first grade I success in his home state capital, the satisfaction level was boosted by the fact his father, Alan, had won the former Invitation Stakes as a jockey almost 30 years ago. Hayes' father, Colin, trained two Invitation winners in his total of 98 grade I's and 523 stakes races. David's last Australian grade I success was in 1995, shortly before leaving for Hong Kong.
He said there had been no specific intent to team up on their return to Australia. The association's development was punctuated early this month by the Craiglee (Aus-II) success of Confectioner -- a moderate sixth as the 11-4 favorite in the Underwood Stakes (Aus-I) one race prior.
"If I ever had to go to war," Williams said after the race, "I'd like to have David in my team".
At 2, Barely A Moment was a grade I winner of the subsequently demoted Flemington Sires' Produce Stakes. His 3-year-old season was a series of near misses including seconds to currently US-based Alinghi in the Ascot Vale Stakes (Aus-II) and to Econsul in the Caulfield Guineas (Aus-I).
The $212,000 Caulfield purse elevated the 4-year-old's earnings to within $7,000 of a million. Hayes races the colt with several syndicates.
Barely a Moment was bred by veteran Western Australian horseman Dick Vincent and harvested at $58,000 in Perth by Melbourne agent Mark Pilkington, a prolific buyer for the Hayes barn. Vincent bred horses in the 1950s, but gave it away to work on cattle stations in the north of WA until five years ago.
To produce Barely a Moment, Vincent sent Lady Danna from his band of 20 to Gilded Time at Vinery. Lady Danna contributed just $17,000 and change to Danehill's massive earnings in winning once from seven starts. Her dam, Bare Minimum, is English-bred and an unraced daughter of Bustino.
Gilded Time spent four years on the shuttle, commuting between Vinerys separated by the Pacific Ocean from 1999.