The Hawkes Stable took out the Golden Slipper in memorable fashion with Mossfun last weekend and will have the chance to score another Group 1 victory when Messene starts the 2014 Doncaster Mile as favourite at Royal Randwick on Saturday.
Messene has scored seven straight victories, including wins in the Listed National Sprint (1400m) at Canberra on March 9 and Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) at Rosehill Gardens on March 22 this preparation, and has been extremely well-backed to claim a maiden win at Group 1 level in the Doncaster Mile.
The Lonhro gelding has not been seen at the races since his Ajax Stakes victory, but received a hit-out in a barrier trial at Royal Randwick on Friday and according to co-trainer Wayne Hawkes is heading into the Doncaster Mile in good condition.
“I was at the Randwick trials on Friday with Messene and he was against Lankan Rupee and Snitzerland and he just sat behind them and did what he had to do,” Hawkes told Racing Ahead.
“It was more about just putting him on the float and giving him a little bit of a blowout.
“He has had three weeks between runs and he has only had two runs in two stakes races and won them both very impressively.”
Messene has worked through the grades slowly since he started his winning streak with a win in a benchmark 75 handicap at Canterbury on March 13 last year and has responded each time he has been asked to step-up in grades.
Hawkes admits that the five-year-old will face the toughest test of his racing career to date on the Doncaster Mile on Saturday and said that he is still unsure just how good the progressive gelding is.
“Obviously it is a big test for him Saturday,” Hawkes said.
“I don’t know where this horse is at to be honest; he just keeps on improving and I don’t know where he is going to stop.
“Everybody tells me he is going to win the Doncaster and I hope they are right.”
While Messene’s 2014 Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival campaign has gone smoothly to date, Hawkes admits that he is slightly concerned about the prospect of a wet Royal Randwick track this weekend.
Messene has never competed on a track rated worse than a dead five and Hawkes is hoping that the skies clear in Sydney early in the week.
“We don’t need any more rain at Randwick that is for sure because Randwick doesn’t cop the wet that good,” Hawkes said.
“We have had enough wet weather in Sydney and if it stops now the track will end up pretty good, so hopefully the weather will turn for everyone’s stack.”
Messene is currently available at 2014 Doncaster Mile odds of $3.50 and is a clear favourite from El Roca ($8) and Weary ($9), while stablemate Ninth Legion is available at a quote of $31.