Apulia on target for Victoria Derby assault

Lindsay Park galloper Apulia has shown his Victoria Derby credentials with a strong win in a lead up contest at Moonee Valley.

Apulia took out the Group 2 The Vase (2040m) on Saturday to provide the perfect launch pad into the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington next week.

Providing Mark Zahra with the third leg of a winning treble and Lindsay Park trainers Ben, Will and J D Hayes a second winner on Cox Plate Day, Apulia ($4.20) registered a two length win from the $2.45 betting sites favourite Verdad with Air Assault ($4.60) a further 1-½ lengths away third.

Apulia was backing up from running fourth at Caulfield last week and if he heads on to the Derby will be racing for the third time in as many weeks.

“He really appreciated the quick back-up,” J D Hayes said.

“He was on the back up from a slow pace last week and he was doing a few things wrong.

“He’s a big strong colt and he was really tough today and it was a ten-out-of-ten ride from Mark Zahra.”

Apulia is part-owned by now Hong Kong based trainer David Hayes, the father of the three trainers, and made the trip to Melbourne to watch Apulia land the prize.

Hayes said his father, along with the Garrett family who own the other half of Apulia, were supportive of backing up into Saturday’s race with the aim of heading to the Derby in a weeks’ time.

“There was an influence with the 50 per-cent ownership with Dad, and the Garretts were fully supportive as well,” Hayes said.

“We bred him and race him in conjunction with the Garretts and it is such a huge result.”

Hayes said Apulia be a handful at the barriers but was on his best behaviour in the gates on Saturday.

“He must have known the big boss was here today, as we all do,” Hayes said.

“He got his manners perfect.

“When Dad’s around we all have to be on our best behaviour.”

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