Trainer Chris Waller expects Hawkspur to take up a prominent field position in the 2013 Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Tuesday.
Hawkspur has drawn wide at gate eighteen in the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) and a change of tactics will see the four year old ridden closer to lead.
At his last two starts in Melbourne, the Queensland Derby winner has been ridden quietly from wide barriers resulting in a fifth to Happy Trails in the Group 1 $500,000 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington on October 5 and a seventh to Fawkner in the Group 1 $2.5m BMW Caulfield Cup (2400m) at Caulfield two weeks ago.
“We’ll be a little more aggressive than we were in the Caulfield Cup,” Waller told Racenet.
“We decided to ride for luck there and we got absolutely none so we’ll take our chance and be in the front half of the field on Tuesday.”
“He’s won a Derby so he’s no problems at that distance, but when you are up against the caliber of horses he will meet tomorrow, plus the extra distance, it will make it tough.
“We’ve done everything we can to get him there so now it’s up to the horse.”
Hawkspur raced on the pace at his three wins in Brisbane during the Winter Carnival and came away with three wins for Waller and his Melbourne Cup jockey Jim Cassidy.
Cassidy and Hawkspur made it a clean sweep of the three year old staying races in Brisbane and kicked it off with a win in the Group 3 $125,000 Mittys Rough Habit Plate (2100m) at Eagle Farm on May 11 followed by a win in the Group 3 $150,000 Mullins Lawyers Grand Prix Stakes (2200m) at Doomben on May 25.
And they rounded off their Winter Carnival with a win in the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 8 after racing in a forward position and pouncing on the leaders at the top of the straight.
Waller credits the Brisbane Winter Carnival for Hawkspur being one of the main fancies going into Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup.
The leading Sydney trainer said that horses retain residual fitness if they race well during the Winter in the warmer Queensland climate and it makes it easier to get them ready for the Spring.
Waller’s outstanding three year old Zoustar is a prime example after having wintered in Brisbane, the Northern Meteor colt has won his last three Spring outings including two at Group 1 level, the $1m De Bortoli Wines Golden Rose Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill and the $500,000 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) at Flemington last Saturday.
“In Queensland you have a lot of residual fitness, so Hawkspur and Zoustar barely had time to put their heads down in the paddock and it was time to come in,” Waller told The Courier-Mail.
“Further to that you have a warm climate. I think that’s why horses do so well in Australia, particularly those speed horses, they mature quicker.”
Hawkspur is currently a $17 chance in the latest Melbourne Cup market order with the Gai Waterhouse trained Fiorente still at the top of the betting at $7.
Newmarket trained Luca Cumani is looking for better luck this year for Mount Athos who is at $9.50 just ahead of Dandino at $12, Sea Moon at $14 and French mare Verema at $15.
Irish St Leger winner Voleuse De Coeurs shares the $17 line with Hawkspur with Dear Demi the next best at $21.