Headwater is back to his best after scoring a resounding first up win in the Listed $120,000 Kensington Stakes (1000m) at Flemington last Saturday.
The Team Hawkes trained Headwater was having his start since a disappointing Spring Carnival campaign when he failed to fill a place from four outings.
But Saturday’s win showed the ability that the Exceed And Excel colt has demonstrated during his two year old season which culminated with a 2 lengths fifth to Vancouver in the 2015 Group 1 $3.5m Tooheys New Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m) at Rosehill during the Autumn Carnival.
After being a little slow out of the gates in the Kensington Stakes, Dwayne Dunn settled Headwater ($6) back behind the leading division down the middle of the Flemington straight and challenged Bullpit ($9) at the 100m to record a head win over the older horses.
“He half-blundered the start and it worked to our advantage,” co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said.
“He had the good suck in behind Bullpit, and when he popped out, he really pinned his ears back.
“He just wasn’t his go in the spring, he wasn’t quite right – he ran a really good race at Moonee Valley, but wasn’t quite right.”
Headwater won twice as a two year old and earned a start in the Golden Slipper with his win in the Group 2 $250,000 Blackwoods Uvex Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill and then ran third to Vancouver in the Group 2 $300,000 UNSW Todman Stakes (1200m) at Randwick prior to running in the Golden Slipper Stakes.
But as an early three year old, Headwater failed to live up to his two year old form with a seventh in the Group 3 $125,000 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill, a ninth in the Group 2 $200,000 Danehill Stakes (1200m) at Flemington, aa fourth in the Group 1 $450,000 Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley and an eighth in the Group 2 $200,000 Caulfield Sprint (1000m) at Caulfield.
“This autumn, he’s been back on song,” Hawkes said.
“I told the owners, ‘We’ve got nowhere to hide’, he really has to step up and run big today, and that’s what he did.”
“He ran fifth in a Golden Slipper, Bossy couldn’t have given him a better ride then, he only got beaten a length.
Dunn was also pleased to see Headwater back in the winner’s circle after a lacklustre Spring campaign.
“We had a really big opinion of him. He won his first two starts,” Dunn said.
“They don’t get an easy life these horses, they have to go to the top level very quickly.
“He just was in the wilderness last preparation, but he trialled really well and was more relaxed this time in, and hopefully he can reach the heights we think he can.”
Now that he is back in winning form, the well-bred Headwater’s stud career is looking a bit more positive and he has already been booked to stand at Vinery Stud when he is retired from the race track.
“He’s by a Newmarket Handicap winner out of an Oakleigh Plate winner [River Dove], and there’d be very few horses anywhere in the country with a fatter pedigree than that,” Hawkes said.
“He’s a Group 2-winning two-year-old, so he’s got a berth next to the two Caulfield Guineas winners – All Too Hard and Press Statement.
“It’s good to get him back in winning form.”
The Kensington Stakes win was Headwater’s third from nine starts and took his earnings to $457,200.