Chris Waller-trained Hawkspur recorded his first victory at weight-for-age level with a dominant three and a quarter lengths victory in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick this afternoon.
Beaten Up was the surprise leader of the race and looked as though he was going to hold on for a gutsy win but Hawkspur jumped out of the ground in the final 100 metres of the race to finish well clear of Beaten Up and Lightinthenite.
Hawkspur was very impressive in the 2013 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival, winning the Group 3 Rough Habit Plate (2100m), Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) and Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m), but has returned as a four-year-old a much improved horse and is set to be one of Waller’s leading hopes for the Caulfield Cup (2400m) and Melbourne Cup (3200m).
“It looks like he is in the race (the Melbourne Cup) with a pretty good weight,” Waller told the media after the race.
“Timing wise let’s hope that it works out – there is a lot of water to go under the bridge but it is good to have a number of chances in those big races.
“We know that he will stay and he has taken the next step.
“We are trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves but you take bonuses out of this.”
Jockey Jim Cassidy labeled Hawkspur a leading Melbourne Cup chance after he rode the Purrealist gelding first-up in the Warwick Stakes (1400m) and said that there isn’t another horse that he would rather be on in the major races during the 2013 Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.
“He might be my next Kiwi (1983 Melbourne Cup winner),” Cassidy said of Hawkspur after the victory.
“He has a great will to win, he can maneuver and he is athletic so he ticks all the boxes.
“I never let him go today – look out when I do.
“I wouldn’t be swapping him for anything going to the Melbourne or Caulfield Cups yet.”
Warwick Stakes winner Veyron (9th) was well backed in the lead-up to the race but had plenty of excuses after being checked and blocked for a run, while John O’Shea-trained Lightinthenite (3rd), imported stayer Moriarty (4th) and Sneak A Peek (5th) all produced eye-catching runs.