A century-long hoodoo has been broken by former Hong Kong galloper Redkirk Warrior with his first-up victory in the time-honoured Group One Newmaket Handicap at Flemington.
Redkirk Warrior is now in the care of the Lindsay Park team in Victoria and became the first horse since Polycrates in 1917 to win a Newmarket Handicap at Flemington first-up from a spell with his convincing victory on Saturday.
The victory was also a triumph for rising star jockey Regan Bayliss who landed his first Group One win.
Redkirk Warrior ($31) won the Group Three Sandown Stakes (1500m) in his first preparation for Lindsay Park last spring and co-trainer David Hayes was confident of a big showing in the Newmarket in the gelding's first start since November.
The six-year-old sat on the speed down the straight 1200m course and sprinted clear over the final 200m to defeat Voodoo Lad ($17), who was also first-up, by two lengths while three-year-old Star Turn ($8.50) held on for third another short head away.
"I've been telling anyone that listens that he's the best galloper in my stable," Hayes said.
"And I think he proved that today.
"He's quite a machine. He started favourite in a Hong Kong Derby (in 2015) and didn't quite stay."
Hayes said feet issues ended Redkirk Warrior's Hong Kong career but praised the farrier who has worked on the gelding's feet.
"This horse was retired from Hong Kong because of feet issues," he said.
"He's had a wind operation, and he's a superstar."
Hayes said he had set the horse for the Newmarket and Doncaster Mile in Sydney which will be his next target.
"I really think he's a lovely Doncaster horse," said Hayes, who trains in partnership with his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig.
"The owner told me when he gave the horse to me, he said 'if you get this horse's feet right, he'll race Winx'. And I thought he was dreaming.
"But that was the sort of performance that he might be able to be entered against her anyway."
Hayes was thrilled for Bayliss, who outrode his claim in December and became a senior rider the following month.
"His star is born I think," Hayes said.
"His career is about to really launch."
A delighted Bayliss fulfilled a dream with his breakthrough Group One win.
"Ever since I was a little boy I've dreamed of this moment I'm living right now," he said.
By Mathew Toogood
MELBOURNE, March 11 AAP