Promising gelding Gold Force will return to the races in the Mitchelton Wines Handicap (1000m) at Moonee Valley on Saturday and co-trainer Wayne Hawkesis confident that he can be competitive against the strong field in the $80,000 event.
Gold Force made his racing debut with a dominant three lengths victory in the Inglis Premier (1200m) at Mornington on February 12, but was sent to the spelling paddock after failing to fire in the Group 2 Skyline Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on March 15.
Hawkes told Racing Ahead that Gold Force had plenty of excuses for his poor showing in the Skyline Stakes and said that the Flying Spur gelding has impressed since returning to trackwork, but admits that the rising three-year-old faces a tough assignment against the likes of Boomwaa and Nordic Empire this weekend.
“He has done really well,” Hawkes said.
“You have to forget about the Skyline, if James McDonald knew the horse like he does know he probably would not have done what he did.
“He overhunted him out of the gates and he overraced and just pulled his brains out a fell in a hole.
“In fairness, the horse was probably at the end of his prep, but you don’t often win a $150,000 race at Mornington and say the horses job is complete, so we had a roll at the stumps.
“We were never going to run in the Slipper to be honest, but in those $200,000 races before the Slipper you can dodge the better ones.
“He is back bigger, better and stronger, but I had a quick little look at the form and you know that spring is here don’t you?
“We are going from one or two chances to four or five realistic chances in that race on Saturday.”
Gold Force has impressed onlookers with a couple of strong jump outs since returning to trackwork, but Hawkes said that he was not getting carried away with the performances of the gelding and believes that his jump out efforts were not as impressive as they were made out to be by the racing media.
“He has done everything pretty right,” Hawkes said.
“He is a pretty push button sort of horse and there is nothing sexy about him
“His jump outs have been great without being sexy and as I have said before we will starting jumping them out a bit faster when they start putting prizemoney up.
“Jump outs are for two things – they get them fit and they are for educating horses.
“He has done well and he is going to be competitive.
“If it was a normal race I’d say it would be a winnable race, but I just have to come back a cog because of the quality of the horses.”
Gold Force is currently available at odds of $4.80 in the Mitchelton Wines Handicap betting market with Ladbrokes Australia, while Robbie Laing-trained Boomwaa ($4.20) is a narrow favourite.