A BARGAIN buy for Kyneton trainer Danielle Chapman, hopes are growing Haystacks Calhoun can develop into a city-class horse.
Purchased for only $2500 online by Chapman, the four-year-old gelding underlined his potential by returning from a four-month spell to win his second career race from seven starts at Benalla on Friday.
But it's as much what he has shown previously as what he did on Friday that has his enthusiastic trainer thinking of opportunities down the line.
After breaking his maiden over 1100m as a three-year-old at Ballarat earlier this year and finishing third at his next start at the same track and distance, Haystacks Calhoun headed to Caulfield, where he finished fourth behind the smart Minhaaj in a $135,000 handicap, beaten by less than three-lengths.
He followed up with an 11th behind La Mexicana in the VOBIS Gold Dash at Caulfield in April, finishing just four-lengths behind the winner, who was placed at Group 3 level at Caulfield on the weekend.
Chapman admitted to heading to Benalla with plenty of confidence in the gelding's ability after winning a jump-out on his home track last month.
"He's fantastic, a beautiful horse and he's got the best temperament," she said.
"I was very confident until (Thursday) night when he sprung a plate and then I was a bit upset.
"(But) he's a very classy horse and we were happy for him to win."
Chapman said Benalla had not been the option of choice for Haystacks Calhoun, but she was nevertheless rapt to see jockey Patrick Moloney steer the son of Rubick and Miss Haystacks to a strong-finishing win.
"We were going to give him just an easy run at Kyneton (last Monday), but unfortunately they were cancelled with the rain," she said.
"That's why we thought we would just come up here (to Benalla) and hopefully get a win and we did.
"He looks amazing, doesn't he. He's still a little bit fat, so there's a lot of improvement to come."
Moloney, who has ridden Haystacks Calhoun in his last four runs, said he had always felt confident of winning throughout the run.
"You only had to look at his form last prep, he was getting beat four-lengths from La Mexicana and the like at Caulfield," he said.
"I thought if he brought that form (to Benalla), it would just be a matter of keeping him out of trouble, which we were able to do.
"When I landed three-wide with a bit of cover, I thought the horse to beat in Matthew Allen's mount (Terindah) - tracking it, I thought it was pretty much game over.
"He's a big robust horse, the only (query) was going to be fitness. He just peaked on his run a little bit late, but he just had the class edge over them."
Moloney praised a brilliant training performance by Chapman and her knack to get the best out of reclaimed horses.
"She's a ripper Danielle, I would do anything for her - I'd bend over backward," he said.
"She's a fantastic trainer and does a great job with the horses she gets.
"She buys a lot of tried horses that have wind issues and she rectifies them. You can see the job she's done with this horse. He was sacked from a big team and now he's getting their money back for them."
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