Imported stayer Sir John Hawkwood will head towards the 2016 Sydney Cup after he returned to the races with a win in the 2016 Sky High Stakes at Rosehill Gardens this afternoon.
Messene took up the running from Who Shot Thebarman in the early stages of the Sky High Stakes, while jockey Blake Spriggs elected to settle Sir John Hawkwood just behind the speed.
Who Shot Thebarman put the pressure on Messene at the top of the straight and Spriggs bided his time on Sir John Hawkwood, but the Sir Percy gelding showed an impressive turn-of-foot when he was asked for an extra effort to finish over the top of Messene in the Sky High Stakes.
Sir John Hawkwood had not been seen at the races since he finished second in the Listed Tattersalls Club Cup (2400m) at Royal Randwick on New Year’s Day, but trainer David Vandyke said that he does not have to give the seven-year-old much work or racing and could elect to send him to the Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m) second-up.
“He has had a bit of time off, but the more we get to know him the less work he needs to do,” Vandyke said.
“He is just a horse that needs to be super fresh and I wouldn’t even hesitate going into the Sydney Cup two miles second-up.
“He is just one of those real Europeans that can do it without much racing.
“He likes to chase and we decided before the race that he wasn’t going to get there to late and he had it set to the second almost.
“As we said before the Carnival around Christmas, we were always going to set this horse towards the Sydney Cup and the Chairman’s Handicap.
“We will decide which race we go to after we assess how he is after this run.
“He is an old horse, but mentally he just wants to get out there and do it.”
Spriggs said after the Sky High Stakes win of Sir John Hawkwood that it was the biggest thrill of his racing career to date and he paid tribute to Waratah Thoroughbreds and Vandyke for allowing him to stick with the talented import.
The rising hoop is confident that Sir John Hawkwood will be able to run out a strong 3200 metres in the Sydney Cup and he would not be surprise if the gelding was more than competitive in the Group 1 event.
“It will be no problems at all,” Spriggs said.
“He settles and he has given me every indication that he would.
“He ran second in the Chairman’s over 2600 last year and for me he will stay all day.
“He actually has really good turn-of-foot and there is no reason why he can’t get in a race like the Sydney Cup over 3200 metres and run a hell of a race.”
Messene stuck on to finish second, while Who Shot Thebarman was outsprinted at the top of the straight, but he was still able to find the line fairly as he builds towards the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) and the Sydney Cup.