Trainer Neil Dyer believes this could be the year for Hawks Bay to claim his first Darwin Cup victory, after finishing second his past two attempts.
Hawks Bay will be ridden by top jockey Steven Arnold in the race, who will be in the fight of his life against the favourite, The Ruffian, who is coincidently trained by his mother.
“Steven’s a professional and I know he’ll get the job done and my horse has a big weight so it’s going to be an advantage having a heavy-weight jockey like him on board,” Dyer said.
Hawks Bay won the Metric Mile at the same racecourse last weekend whilst carrying the top weight of 63.5 kilograms.
The six-year-old gelding will carry a slightly lighter 62.5 kilograms in today’s race.
“That run (in the Metric Mile) shows how well he is going,” Dyer said.
“He wasn’t at his top but when he got into the clear he just out-sprinted them.”
Hawks Bay has drawn a good barrier for the first time in his three Darwin Cup starts and will jump from gate three.
“It’s going to make a huge difference drawing an inside barrier,” Dyer said.
The trainer will also saddle up stablemate Palmyra Boy for today’s race, who finished third behind Hawks Bay in the Metric Mile.
“He can be funny at the start,” Dyer said of the nine-year-old.
“If he jumps I think he will run a really good race.”