Three-year-old Wawail has returned to the winner’s circle in impressive fashion at Flemington this afternoon; producing a strong final straight sprint to hold-off a late charge from Sabatini in the Group 2 Kewney Stakes (1400m).
Jumping from the gates well, Michael Walker settled the daughter Lonhro off the pace of early leaders Vezalay, Zambezi Diamond and Bottle Of Smoke, who charged away from the barriers and set a fast tempo approaching the bend.
Finding a good rhythm and hitting the heels of the leaders upon reaching the final straight, Wawail pressed forward and locked in a fierce sprint battle with Vezalay; pushing clear over the final 200m and hitting the line a half-length clear of Sabatini, who was forced to charge home late down the outside after being held up for a run.
Michael Walker stalked the race’s leaders leading into the final straight, and timed Wawail’s late charge to the line perfectly to take out the 2015 Kewney Stakes.
“She just relaxes and shows a kick,” Walker said after the race.
“When I hit the front she was waiting for them again, so I’m going to have to time that run a bit better.
“I was just in behind waiting for something to open because I knew that if it opened she’d quicken, and she did.
“She got to the front with Ollie (Damien Oliver, Vezalay) and she star-gazed again.
“Whether it’s this prep or next prep, she’ll get there.”
Co-trainer David Hayes was thrilled with Michael Walker’s performance on Wawail this afternoon following a few less-than-ideal results recently, and revealed a trip to Dubai remains on the cards for the classy filly.
“The barrier was fantastic and I just think he’s (Walker) been hitting the trigger a little bit early on these big days and his timing was perfect in that,” Hayes said.
“He got through and he arrived at the clock tower and I think at Flemington if you can arrive there, it’s the best time to get there.
“It was a damn good filly running her down in Sabatini and I think today the difference was the barriers; we got the dream run and it had to get back.
“She’ll go to Dubai as a four-year-old and there’s some really good racing for her here. She’s five out of six and could easily have been six out of six, so we’ll maybe look at a race over the carnival – there’s some really nice pickings over there against the fillies and mares.”