The John O’Shea trained Handfast has been installed the clear favourite for the Group 3 $200,000 Blacktown Workers Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) at the standalone Hawkesbury meeting on Saturday.
Handfast is the $2.45 favourite with Ladbrokes.com.au and O’Shea is stepping the three year old up class again after he scored a tough win in the Listed $150,000 McGrath Estate Agents South Pacific Classic (1400m) at Randwick on the second day of ‘The Championships’ on April 9.
Godolphin’s head trainer said that Handfast deserved his chance in tougher company after working his way up through the grades with three wins from his last four race starts this campaign.
“He’s come into his own this preparation and took a big step forward last start when we added blinkers for the first time just to help him focus,” O’Shea said.
“That was a good race and he won with a lot of authority, so we’re looking forward to giving him his chance at this level.”
Number one stable rider James McDonald will again be aboard Handfast who has drawn barrier five in the field which has been reduced to ten runners following the scratching of the John Thompson trained Reneged.
Handfast kicked off his latest preparation with a 1250m Maiden win on the Beaumont track at Newcastle on February and backed that up with a win in a 1400m BenchMark 72 Handicap at Warwick Farm on March 2.
The Street Cry gelding then missed a place when fourth in a 1600m BenchMark 78 Handicap at Gosford on March 17 before returning to the winner’s stall in the South Pacific Classic.
Trainer Gerald Ryan has taken the blinkers off the topweight Spill The Beans who is the second pick in the Hawkesbury Guineas market order at $5.50.
Spill The Beans scored an impressive first up win in the Group 3 $150,000 Eskimo Prince Stakes (1200m) at Randwick on February 6 before finishing fourth to Press Statement in the Group 2 $400,000 Hobartville Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill a fortnight later.
Ryan then gave the Snitzel colt a freshen up before his last start eighth to Japonisme in the Group 2 $500,000 Arrowfield 3yo Sprint (1200m) at Randwick on April 9.
Tim Clark takes the ride again on Spill The Beans who will jump from barrier nine.
Hawkesbury Guineas market order at Ladbrokes.com.au: $2.45 Handfast, $5.50 Spill The Beans, $6 Denmagic, $6.50 No More Tears, $14 Serene Majesty, Suspense, $16 Red Extension, $20 Lady Jivago, $21 Denpurr, $26 Sir Plush.