Tough Apulia lines up for Victoria Derby 2023 honours

Lindsay Park trainers Ben, Will & Jd Hayes were forced into tinkering with the Victoria Derby program of Apulia after missing an important lead-up at run at Flemington.

To get the miles into the legs before Saturday’s Group 1 feature over 2500m at Flemington, Apulia has needed to race in the two weeks leading up to the Derby.

Apulia was a late scratching at the barriers in the Derby Trial (1800m) at Flemington on September 24 at a time when the colt was starting to increase his workload heading towards the Derby.

The colt was four weeks between runs when finishing midfield at Flemington over 1800m at Flemington on October 7 before heading to Caulfield on October 21 to run over 2000m.

Apulia was out again last Saturday, taking out the Group 2 Vase (2040m) at Moonee Valley.

Ben Hayes said Apulia had coped with the workload and is not expecting the three races in three weeks to take any toll on the colt.

He said the Caulfield outing was like a track gallop, where they hacked along early before dashing home the last 400m.

“It wasn’t ideal missing that run here, but we just stuck to our guns, which was good, and he’s shown everyone that ability and that he can stay,” Hayes said.

“He’s a very tough colt. I know he’s backing up three weeks in a row, but his first run was basically a mile, home two, very easy, and he bounced through that.

“I think that good, hard run last Saturday will really cap him off and he’ll be fit and ready to go.

“If he cops the racing, he’ll be mighty hard to beat.”

Apulia is part-owned by Lindsay Park patriarch David Hayes who won the Derby with Kibbutz in 2007.

Hayes senior, who now trains in Hong Kong, was at Moonee Valley last week to see Apulia win.

“He pays close attention,” Hayes said.

“He hasn’t passed on any advice, but he’s very confident that the horse has the ability.

“He’s bred to stay being by Fiorente from a High Chaparral mare, so it has been a target race right from the start.”

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