Lindsay Park makes right call with Port Guillaume

Port Guillaume has relished a rise in distance to take out the Australian Hurdle at Sandown.

PORT GUILLAUME winning the Sportsbet Australian Hurdle at Sandown in Australia.
PORT GUILLAUME winning the Sportsbet Australian Hurdle at Sandown in Australia. Picture: Racing Photos

The decision to bypass a maiden steeplechase at Hamilton in favour of the Australian Hurdle at Sandown has paid off handsomely for Lindsay Park the connections of Port Guillaume

The Ben, Will and J D Hayes-trained jumper took out the feature 3900m hurdle on Sunday to add almost $70,000 in prize money to the bank, rather than line up against Wil John at Hamilton on Thursday where first prize was a little over $20,000. 

"It was some dynamic placement," quipped Will Hayes as he waited for Port Guillaume to return to the winner's enclosure after posting his second victory in six starts over hurdles. 

Sent out the $2.60 favourite under Tom Ryan, Port Guillaume registered a 3-¼ length win from Leaderboard ($8) with Lincoln King ($6.50) a short-half-head away third. 

Port Guillaume was originally purchased to win a Melbourne Cup and finished 21st behind Verry Elleegant in 2021 before switching to hurdle racing the following year. 

"He was bought to win nice races on the flat, but to win a jumps feature is just super," Hayes said. 

"No-one knows the horse better than Tommy Ryan. He rides him a lot when he's up at the farm. 

"It was an artwork watching him ride. He had him asleep and then worked him through his gears, and we knew on the flat he'd have most of these horses covered. 

"We rode him like he was the best horse in the race, and he showed them a clean set of heels once he got over the last." 

Lindsay Park has always had a jumper in their team, dating back to the Hayes boys' grand-father Colin along with their father David. 

"It's nice to be putting our name up there as well winning a jumps feature," Hayes said. 

"It's another avenue for horses to go to at Lindsay Park, which is good." 

For Ryan, one of the pioneers of the Irish jumps jockeys now riding in Melbourne, it was his fourth win in the feature hurdle dating back to 2012. 

"He jumped very well, bar a little mistake, which he always seems to do in a race, but we didn't go overly quick," Ryan said. 

"I was a little worried, especially when we sprinted down the hill and he was caught a little flat-footed, but to be fair though, when he found some clear air in the straight, he found another leg. 

"He was bought to win a Melbourne Cup, but he stays very well and the further he goes the better."