Notabadharada, the racehorse that refuses to have a break, will give trainers Jim and Greg Lee reason to reflect on their former champion Hayai when he lines up in the $125,000 Stayers Cup (3200m) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
This was the race that launched Hayai’s outstanding career when he won it during the winter of 1983.
Later that year, Hayai won The Metropolitan and Caulfield Cup, then returned in 1984 to win the Tancred Stakes and a second success in The Metropolitan.
“I used to ride Hayai in all his trackwork and he was just a great horse,” Greg Lee said.
Trainers Jim (left) and Greg Lee at their Hayai Lodge stables at Randwick.Source:News Corp Australia
“What made Hayai so good was his huge heart and lung capacity. When I was riding him in work, as soon as I asked him to pick up my legs would widen on his back because he would take in so much oxygen.
“Notabadharada is no Hayai but I reckon he’s as tough as him.”
There are more talented racehorses than Notabadharada but few are as resilient.
Notabadharada joined the Lee stable at Randwick in January, 2019 – and has not been sent for a spell since.
In fact, in the 30 months he has been trained by the Lee brothers, Notabadharada has contested 57 races. The longest break he has had between runs is seven weeks.
Lee explained that Notabadharada is one of those horses that enjoys the routine of stable life. He gets bored when put in a spelling paddock.
“We can’t spell him!” the trainer said.
“When we have turned him out, he does poorly in the paddock and loses conditions. He needs to be in his stable environment.
“In Europe, they don’t spell their horses because it’s too cold in winter to turn them out.
“We are lucky here because our weather means you can give a horse a spell but some of them, like Notabadharada, hate it because they don’t like being left alone.”
Notabadharada has only managed three wins for the Lee brothers and the gelding is the rank outsider at $16 for the Stayers Cup.
Notabadharada (left) finishing a close second to Power Of Attorney on the Kensington track in January. Photo: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
But Lee is optimistic Notabadaharada can “do a Hayai” and win the Stayers Cup.
“There is one thing I’m certain about with this horse and that is he will run the 3200m right out,” Lee said.
“His recent runs have been good but he has been crying out for further and this is the race we have set him for.
“We felt there wouldn’t be a big field, he would get in well at the weights and he loves heavy tracks, and that’s exactly how it has worked out.”
Lee said even Notabadharada’s demeanour leading into the Stayers Cup also suggests he is ready to run well.
The five-year-old gelding’s stable name is “Fighting” – after the former Japanese boxing great, Fighting Harada – and he has been known to lash out at his handlers.
“He hasn’t got a mean bone in his body but when he is feeling well, he will kick out for fun,” Lee said.
“Over the years, he has got me a few times. You could say he has had a few victories!”
Notabadharada doesn’t conform to the usual thoroughbred stereotype in more ways than one. Even his preparation for the Stayers Cup has been unusual.
The Lee brothers have given the horse lead-up runs over 1900m twice and 2000m to prepare for the marathon 3200m of the Stayers Cup.
“We gave him one run over 2400m earlier in his preparation then deliberately kept him to those shorter races,” Lee said.
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“The plan was to have him right on his game for this race and all the signs are good.”
Lee felt Notabadharada’s last start effort when closing late for fifth behind No Compromise over 2000m at Rosehill was the ideal trial.
“The horse has had a few issues with his heels but he’s going great now and we saw that last start when he really hit the line well,” the trainer said.
Apprentice Brock Ryan rode Notabadharada at Rosehill and has retained for the Stayers Cup.
Ryan doesn’t have much experience riding in 3200m races but he will get plenty of advice from former champion jockeys Jim Cassidy and Neville Voigt, who help out the Lee brothers at Randwick trackwork each morning.
Cassidy won many 3200m races during his celebrated riding career including two Melbourne Cups on Kiwi (1983) and Might And Power (1997) while Voigt was also regarded as an outstanding long distance jockey and was Hayai’s regular rider.
“Jim and Neville were great riders of stayers and they will give Brock a few ideas on how to ride this race,” Lee said.
“Brock rode the horse well last start and he can make the 52kg. Kaapfever and Sweet Thomas look hard to beat but they will know Notabadharada is in the race.
“I’m confident he can run top three and if the race works out for him, he can win it because he will stay all day.”
Originally published asHarada ready to show his fighting spirit in Stayers Cup
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