Chris Waller has won two of the past three Hawkesbury Gold Cups and he is doing everything he can to make it three from four by entering seven runners in this year’s edition on Saturday. The team is a real mixed bag for Waller consisting of some in-form gallopers such as Strawberry Boy ($9.00) and last start winner Rugged Cross ($13), several returning from a spell with Queensland their next port of call – Danchai ($51) and Mulitlateral ($67) plus, an imported galloper with strong overseas form making his debut – Flamingo Star ($17.00). Also with multiple runners is Godolphin with two of their three representatives Medcaut ($4.80f) and Malice ($7.00) leading chances according to early markets. Joining Malice on the second line of betting is Ecuador for trainer Gai Waterhouse who will be hoping to go one better than she did last year with Julienas who finished second to Coup Ay Tee. Waterhouse has won two Hawkesbury Gold Cups with the most recent being Beauty Watch’s 2006 victory.
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1. LASER HAWK – (9)
Fantastic win first up from a spell in the G3 Newmarket Handicap at Newcastle under 59kgs but at his next start a month later, found the company and conditions of the G1 All Aged Stakes (1400m) too difficult, finishing last of thirteen and seven lengths from winner Dissident. Much better suited back to this grade and to the mile of this race, a distance he last competed over in last year’s G1 George Ryder Stakes where he finished third to Sacred Falls.
2. FLAMINGO STAR – J Collett (10)
An imported galloper having his first Australian start for trainer Chris Waller, he won three of his last four starts in Europe including a G3 over a mile at his most recent outing in October of last year. Waller has given the 5yo stallion two trials in preparation for this race, the most recent of which came last week at Warwick Farm where he finished second over 1175m. Finds himself in a competitive race but best treated with caution.
3. MONTON – C Reith (13)
Connections could not have been more pleased with his return to racing from a spell at Randwick a fortnight ago. The 8yo raced peeled off the leading groups’ back rounding the home bend and continued to inch ground off them down the centre of the track, finishing sixth and only 1.2 lengths behind Rugged Cross. Second up efforts read better than stats suggest with his latest two runs at that stage of his prep, resulting in a fourth in the The Villiers and fifth in the G2 Tramway Stakes.
4. STRAWBERRY BOY – J Cassidy (15)
As per normal, he took up the running when returning from a three month break in a BM 100 at Randwick a fortnight ago and gave his supporters a big sight before feeling the pinch late and running fifth, less than a length from winner Rugged Cross. He has an excellent second up record, having won three from six and being placed a further two occasions. His last visit to this track resulted in a win in the Listed Ladies Day Cup (1400m) defeating Monton. Step up to a mile, combined with a wide draw the concerns for mine here though. He never wins by much of a margin if successful and they’ll be coming hard for him the final 100m here.
5. DIADEME – (17)
Claimed the G1 Thoroughbred Breeders (1600m) in New Zealand two starts back before coming over for the G1 Queen Of The Turf where she drew the widest gate in a field of fifteen. The Savabeel mare pushed forward to settle on the speed but the early work told and she battled late, holding on for eighth (5.4 lengths) behind Amanpour. Been deal another horror draw here too and will find this race harder again.
6. BAGMAN – J Parr (14)
After finding the company in some of Victoria’s leading races too hot, the 8yo trained by Chris Waller returned to Sydney as a leading chance in the G3 Manion Cup late March. He loomed up ominously in the straight but, under 59kgs over 2400m, knocked up late and finished third (1.3 lengths). Given a freshen-up since then of seven weeks for the return to the mile, a distance he last competed over in the G2 Chelmsford Stakes running third to Hawkspur and Royal Descent. Will need some luck in running around Hawkesbury but should it come, will be finishing hard.
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7. ECUADOR – T Angland (12)
Tipped to run a big race fresh after more than a year away from the track and didn’t disappoint, finishing a head second to Rugged Cross in a BM 100 (1400m) at Randwick a fortnight ago. Can only be fitter for that run and drops 2kgs to 55kgs here. Has the talent, he boasts a third to Boban in the G1 Doncaster of 2013, and despite the awkward draw would be considered among the better hopes.
8. MALICE – J McDonald (8)
Had every chance when resuming in the Doncaster Prelude but being first up, fitness told late and he finished a head second to Excess Knowledge. The son of Teofilo then stepped out as the 7/2 favourite in the G3 JRA Plate but got shuffled back heading into the turn and then enjoyed little luck in finding clear room in the straight, finishing sixth (3.7 lengths) to Gypsy Diamond. Going well this time in and must’ve pleased stable since for them to drop him back to a mile for this.
9. PHEIDON – T Huet (18)
Resumes from a five months spell here and like stable-mate Ecuador, who also resumed recently from a lengthy spell and performed well, he has been given three trials in readiness for Saturday’s race. The 4yo hasn’t fared well at the barrier draw though and given that he generally races up on the pace, he’ll need to be very at or near his very top this grade to hold off them challengers late.
10. SURPASS – B Loy (11)
The Mike Moroney trained galloper hasn’t raced since finishing eleventh (6.8 lengths) in the G1 Auckland Cup behind Rock Diva in early march. The 6yo doesn’t do much racing below the 2000m mark and would expect this run, his first for eleven weeks, to be one that prepares him for the staying races in Queensland.
11. MULITLATERAL – K O’Hara (3)
Another using this race as a return to racing. The 6yo from the Waller camp has been off the scene since late January, with his last campaign highlighted by a win in the Listed Tatt’s Club Cup (2400m). Generally takes a few runs back to reach his peak and would be happy to wait for him to get over more ground than this.
12. RUGGED CROSS – B Avdulla (4)
Enhanced his already good second-up record with a head win in the BM 100 (1400m) at Randwick a fortnight ago, courtesy of a great ride by Avdulla. Drawn more favourably here will settle him settle closer to the speed and secure a nice run throughout. Chased home Hooked in the G3 Cameron Handicap (1500m) last spring and should be around the mark here as well – especially if there’s some give in the ground.
13. VILANOVA – (1)
Resumed from a four month spell by running last of twelve (4.8 lengths) behind Rugged Cross a fortnight ago. The son of Commands can produce a big run on his day problem his though, those days seem to be few and far between. Jumping from gate 1 is going to require everything going to plan given he’ll settle well back in the run.
14. MEDCAUT – T Berry (4)
Impressive two length winner of a BM 85 (1400m) first up from a spell and off of that effort, was sent out the 9/4 favourite for the BM 100 (1400m) at Randwick a fortnight ago. The Godolphin runner was perfectly placed rounding the turn but on the slow conditions, just took a while to gather his momentum before coming late and finishing strongly for a long neck third to Rugged Cross. Drawn perfectly here, the step up to 1500m and the hope of a firmer surface, are also in his favour. Looks well placed to run a big race here.
15. SAN DIEGO – S Clipperton (7)
Made a sweeping run around the field from worse than midfield when contesting the G3 Doncaster Prelude two starts back, joining the leading group as they straightened for the run home. The big son of Exceed And Excel only held his ground from that point to the line however, running seventh (2.3 lengths) to Burbero.Settled well back again but was finishing strongly in the BM 100m, crossing the line together with stable-mate Medcaut and finishing fourth (half a length). Likes plenty of room to wind into his races so needs a bit to go his way here from gate seven.
16. DANCHAI – J Penza (2)
Closing in on two year since this former imported galloper last won a race and given he is still winless in Australia after ten starts, and that his best efforts are over more ground, would be safe to say he’d find a few too good for him here. Has looked handy in two recent trials, the latest one of which he won in good style and did perform well in Brisbane last winter. Watch him here with that carnival in mind.
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17. LUCKY LAGO – (19) (1st EM)
She lines up here for her third run back this preparation and after being caught deep throughout worse than midfield, in the BM 100 (1400m) at Randiwck a fortnight ago. Despite the tough run, the Snowden trained mare was finishing her race off well and got to within 2.4 lengths of Rugged Cross on the line. Put together a solid prep last time in over the middle distant races and would prefer her in something similar rather than a mile where she jumps from the outside gate in a field of nineteen.
18. EVANGELIST – K McEvoy (5) (2nd EM)
Has had his last three starts in Adelaide, Bendigo and Brisbane with the pick of them being his Victorian effort when a narrow second to Observational in the Listed Golden Mile.The locally trained galloper will not find this race, despite the handy draw, any easier than his previous outings this campaign and hard to see him winning here.
19. FRESPANOL – (16) (3rd EM)
Had every chance when tracking eventual winner Medcaut into the straight two starts back in a BM 85 (1400m) working home without ever looking a winning chance for fourth (5.8 lengths) in last week’s BM 80 (1400m) at Randwick’s mid-week meeting. Appears to be aiming too high here.
RACE OVERVIEW –
Speed drawn out here through Pheidon, Strawberry Boy and Ecuador so expect pace to be solid here. Camped behind them from gate four, will be Medcaut who likes ripe for this third up on what – hopefully – is a dry track. Out of the same race as Medcaut, there was nothing wrong with Monton’s effort and as is the case more often than not, he appears to be over the odds. With improving European form prior to his departure, wary of Flamingo Star at the big odds. Waller more so than any other trainer knows how to get them ready for Australian racing and the fact that he is kicking him off here is best read as a positive.
4. FLAMINGO STAR