Chris Waller admits that the wide barrier draw has hurt the winning chances of Hawkspur in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington tomorrow.
Hawkspur will be making his racing debut in Melbourne after he started his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign with three runs in Sydney.
The Purrealist gelding ran home strongly to finish seventh first-up in the Group 2 Warwick Stakes (1400m) before recording a dominant three and a half lengths victory in the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on September 7.
He made the step back up to Group 1 level in the George Main Stakes (1600m) a fortnight ago and made up good ground in the final stages of the race to finish fourth; with the race not run to suit the backmarkers.
Waller told Racing Ahead that he is happy with the form of the four-year-old but believes he faces a tough assignment from barrier 15 (after the emergencies are removed) in the Turnbull Stakes this weekend.
“He is doing everything right,” Waller said.
“He is a readymade race horse; any distance that you put him over he is fit enough and capable enough of winning.
“Tomorrow sees him step up to a more suitable distance of 2000 metres where he is starting to get his best credentials.
“The draw makes it hard, especially when you are two weeks away from the Caulfield Cup which is his grand final, and we have to make sure that he is given every chance to win the race but make sure that he is looked after so he is finding the line not hitting a brick wall at the 200 metre mark.”
Hawkspur’s regular jockey Jim Cassidy made the decision to remain in Sydney to ride classy colt Zoustar in the Group 2 Roman Consul Stakes (1200m) at Randwick tomorrow and Michael Walker will ride the Queensland Derby winner for the first time.
Waller said that he will be giving Walker riding instructions but acknowledges that it will be a tricky assignment for his fellow New Zealander.
“I think my instructions will be don’t be three wide without cover and don’t be getting there too early and not finishing the race off,” the leading trainer said.
“It is easy for a trainer to tell a jockey and you can’t be telling how a horse will be going at the 200 metre mark either.
“There is a bit of guesswork involved but that is why you have good jockeys aboard.”
Hawkspur is currently on the fifth line of Turnbull Stakes betting at odds of $11.