Trainer Chris Waller has revealed that talented gelding Hawkspur will return to the races in the Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 8.
Hawkspur and stablemate Foreteller arrived in Melbourne on Monday morning to begin their preparations for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 8 and Waller told RSN that he was happy with the way that both horses handled the trip down south.
“Hawkspur and Foreteller arrived on Sunday morning; we travelled them overnight to try and dodge the heat of the day,” Waller said.
“They got off the float in the early hours of the morning and were obviously given a very easy time.”
Hawkspur finished his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a disappointing performance in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m), but stamped himself as an open-age Group 1 contender with strong performances in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m), Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m).
Waller said that a drop-back in distance will suit Hawkspur during the 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing and he believes that the 2000 metres of the Australian Cup is now the ideal trip for the Purrealist gelding.
“It was a bit of an anti-climax towards the end where he struggled to stay in the Melbourne Cup,” Waller said.
“That is something about the two mile race that you never know and he just didn’t have the stamina to see it out.
“He will bounce back over a shorter journey.
“He will run in the Orr Stakes first-up, a 1400 metre race might be a bit short, but his whole preparation is geared towards the Australian Cup.
“A 2000 metre race should suit him at Flemington.
“He won the Derby in Queensland as a three-year-old over 2400 metres, but sometimes three-year-olds tend to run a bit further than what they actually do when they are fully mature.
“I think that 2000 metres is his prime distance now.”
Waller has previously had just two runners in the Australian Cup; with Foreteller seventh behind Super Cool in last year’s race and Honor In War tenth behind Pompeii Ruler in 2007.
Hawkspur is currently available at 2014 Australian Cup odds of $5, behind Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente ($3.50), while Foreteller is on the fifth line of betting at odds of $13.