Chris Waller’s decision to return Hawkspur to Sydney early could pay dividends with the leading trainer declaring that the Queensland Derby winner is close to be best for the Group 1 $500,000 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on Saturday.
Waller cut short Hawkspur’s Melbourne Autumn Carnival campaign and scrapped a start in the Group 1 $1m Darley Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington to concentrate on the Sydney Carnival.
Hawkspur failed to beat a runner home when sixth behind Moment Of Change in the Group 1 $400,000 Sportingbet C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8 and Waller immediately sent him back his Rosehill base.
“I just thought he was a little way off where we want him to be down there,’’ Waller told The Daily Telegraph.
“Plus I don’t think he likes the hard tracks and the tracks get very firm this time of year in Melbourne.’’
But Waller is certain he has turned things around with Hawkspur showing some of his old jest with an eye catching third to stablemate Boban in the Group 1 $500,000 Chipping Norton Stakes (1600m) at Warwick Farm on March 8.
“His run last start was fantastic and he has a great record at 2000-metres,” Waller told TVN.
“He’s close to his best.”
Hawkspur had a pretty tough Spring Carnival campaign and failed to recapture the form that saw him be one of the stars of the 2013 Brisbane Winter Carnival with a hat trick of wins in Group races culminating with a win in the Group 1 $500,000 Channel Seven Queensland Derby (2400m) at Eagle Farm.
Waller will also saddle up Foreteller and Moriarty in the Ranvet Stakes which has been labelled as a battle between Gai Waterhouse’s headline horse Fiorente and New Zealand’s flag bearer It’s A Dundeel.
Waller is also putting plenty of faith in Foreteller who he says is always thereabouts in these weight for age contests and has put him through the same program that saw the seven year old score an upset win in last year’s Ranvet Stakes.
Foreteller was beaten one and a quarter lengths when fifth to Fiorente in the Group 2 $220,000 Carlton Draught Peter Young Stakes (1800m) at Caulfield on February 22 before finishing third, three quarters of a length behind Waterhouse’s star again in the Australian Cup.
“He’s the benchmark with weight-for-age horses,” Waller said.
“We saw him come back from the Australian Cup last year and win the Ranvet.
“He worked very well here this morning.”
Fiorente at $2.60 and It’s A Dundeel at $3.20 are fighting it for out favouritism for the Ranvet Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au while Foreteller is on the third line of betting at $9.50 just in front of Hawkspur and Waterhouse’s second runner Carlton House at $11.