Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes believes that La Amistad is good enough to make the 2014 Melbourne Cup field by winning the Group 3 $300,000 Lexus Stakes (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.
La Amistad is currently number twenty-six in the order of entry for the Group 1 $6m Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday and needs to win the Lexus Stakes to be exempt from the ballot and leapfrog into the final twenty-four horses field.
“Her ability says she’s good enough,” Hawkes said at a media conference at Crown in Melbourne today.
“Physically and mentally she’s still not quite there yet, but the ability is there alright,”
“If she wins the Lexus and she’s okay she will run in the Cup.”
La Amistad, a three-quarter sister to three time Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva, is slowly learning her trade and Hawkes believes that next season will see her at her best.
“I wish we were in 2015 right now because whatever she does this year, she will be a much better horse this time next year,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes is not worried about backing up La Amistad in three days in the Melbourne Cup if she wins the Lexus Stakes after nearly pulling off the double with Maluckyday who ran second to American in 2010 after winning the Lexus Stakes.
“I learnt from Maluckyday that you take your chances when they come,” Hawkes said.
“Maluckyday got pneumonia after that Cup and was never the same again, so if La Amistad makes it she’ll run – she’s a five-year-old after all.”
La Amistad ‘s Spring form has been a little bit indifferent but the 2500m of the Lexus Stakes will suit her at this stage of her preparation.
Three runs back the Redoute’s Choice mare ran fourth to Junoob in the Group 2 $200,000 Ascend Sales Trophies Hill Stakes (2000m) at Randwick on September 20 before failing to run on when eleventh to the same horse in the Group 1 $400,000 McGrath Estate Agents Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick on October 4.
But she regained some credibility with a last start second to Mulagen in the Listed $100,000 City Tattersalls Club Cup (2406m) at Randwick on October 18.
Hawkes preferred Melbourne jockey Dwayne Dunn takes over from Brenton Avdulla and Hawkes is hoping for a solid tempo in the race to give La Amistad every chance to run on up the long Flemington straight.
“If they trot, walk, canter and sprint home it might make it a bit harder for her, but if they run the Lexus at a good tempo I think we are a good chance of winning it again,” Hawkes said.
Niwot also won the Lexus Stakes for Team Hawkes in 2011 before going on to finish eighth to Dunaden in the Melbourne Cup.
Twelve of the thirteen runners in the Lexus Stakes are looking to cement a place in the 2014 Melbourne Cup field.
La Amistad is currently an $8 chance for the Lexus Stakes with Ladbrokes.com.au who have the Darren Weir trained Signoff the $2.80 favourite after coming in for some solid support.
Next in the market order is the English stayer Lord Van Percy at $6.50 just ahead of Big Memory at $8, Let’s Make Adeal and Caravan Rolls On at $9 and More Than Sacred at $12.