Laser Hawk returned to a semblance of his best form with a third place finish in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m) and trainer Joe Pride is confident that the talented gelding is a genuine winning chance in the 2014 Epsom Handicap at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Laser Hawk was one of the star three-year-olds of the 2012 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival and he defeated Ocean Park and Silent Achiever to win the Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m), but has been plagued by injuries as an older horse.
The six-year-old returned to racing after a lengthy layoff in the Group 2 Missile Stakes (1200m) at Royal Randwick on August 9 and finished at the tail of the field in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes (1400m) at Rosehill Gardens on September 13 before he produced a brave front-running performance to finish third in the George Main Stakes.
Pride has always been confident that Laser Hawk would be able to return to his best form and he told Racing Ahead that he believes the Artie Schiller gelding is capable of winning what he described as a relatively weak edition of the Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m).
“He is a genuine Group 1 horse and if he can stay sound I think that he will win again at that level,” Pride said.
“I’ve certainly had it at the forefront of my mind and it is nice to have made it here in one piece and with him in good form.
“It doesn’t look like what you would call a vintage Epsom, I’ve certainly seen stronger editions, and the current favourite hasn’t won for close enough to a year and a half or two years.
“I think that he is well in the race.
“He put the writing on the wall the other day; he is coming off a really long spell and it takes a bit horse like him a little while to hit his straps.
“He will improve a good deal again on what he did the other day, which would make him pretty competitive.”
Pride was set to have two runners in the 2014 Epsom Handicap field, but Rock Sturdy was ruled out of the race after suffering an injury at trackwork yesterday.
There were fears that the racing career of Rock Sturdy would be over, but Pride said that he is hopeful that the Fastnet Rock entire will be able to return to racing in the autumn.
“He has another scan to go this morning,” Pride said.
“At this stage it looks like we will hopefully be able to give him at least an autumn preparation.
“That would be a good result.”
Laser Hawk is currently available at 2014 Epsom Handicap odds of $9 and is on the fifth line of betting at Ladbrokes behind Royal Descent ($4.40), Toydini ($6), He’s Your Man ($6) and Boban ($7).