Former Melbourne Cup Favourite Ready for Australian Debut

Ben H / 20 January 2024

Last Updated on 20 January 2024

Following a win in a Grade 2 race in the US, German bay gelding Loft was the second favourite with the bookies for the 2022 Melbourne Cup and was tipped for big things. However, he was scratched from the race that stops the nation, leaving decorated jockey James McDonald without a ride.

Patience Paid Off for the Hayes Camp

Soon after he arrived in Australia and after his failed 2022 Melbourne Cup campaign, the German-bred stayer went off the radar. He underwent an operation on a tendon injury and his subsequent rehabilitation kept him out of action for 18 months.

Loft suffered the injury before he joined the Hayes’ camp. However, Ben, JD, and Will Hayes were patient with their prized asset and are now going to be rewarded with Loft’s first start on Australian soil.

Will Hayes said they were raised to believe that patience was a virtue and if there was one horse that put that to the test for them it was Loft. Hayes credited the owners for staying patient with the six-year-old and giving him “every opportunity to return to the races.”

Will Be Used on Staying Classics

Loft was at Flemington on January 5 for a jump-out and showed he could race during the autumn carnival. Hayes said they managed to get the horse to “a decent level of fitness.” He added that everyone who worked on getting the horse back to the track “did a great job,” as he came to them “with a good base of fitness.”

Hayes said they got Loft ready for a trial and then agreed he had done enough and was ready for an autumn assault on longer races, as the stayer has won two Group 2 races that were over 3200 metres.

According to Hayes, because Loft used to be a Melbourne Cup front-runner in the past, they were convinced he would do well in the staying classics and would be “pigeonholed” towards them.

Ben H
Ben Harris is the Communications Manager for KRUZEY, an AFL and NRL expert, and writer. He has one daughter that he loves dearly and five... [Read full bio]

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