Winning jockey Peter Robl believes that Ninth Legion has the class to be competitive in the Group 1 $3m The Star Doncaster Mile (1600m) at Randwick during the 2014 Sydney Autumn Carnival.
Robl has high hopes for Ninth Legion in the Autumn after the Team Hawkes trained four year old raced on the pace before scoring a three quarters of a length win over Limes and Alma’s Fury in the Group 2 $175,000 Villiers Stakes (1550m) on the Kensington track at Randwick last Saturday.
“If he continues to progress like he has this preparation, then he would be a genuine lightweight chance in the Doncaster,” Robl told The Sunday Telegraph.
“He has run well in Group 1 races before, he did run fourth in a Golden Rose, and he has run second to Toydini so he has the class.”
“Ninth Legion wanted to be there today. On the way to the barrier, you could feel his energy, he was humming. He was trained to perfection for this race.
“I was happy to sit close to (leader) Listen Son, they were going at a genuine pace, and I didn’t realise we were a couple of lengths in front of the field.
“Coming to the turn, Ninth Legion was travelling so well, but I was hoping Listen Son would take us further into the straight.
“But when he charged to the lead, he was never going to get beaten.”
Michael Hawkes, who shares the training responsibilities with his brother Wayne and father John, said the turning point for Ninth Legion was when the team decided to geld him.
“We set the horse from day one for this race, he is a gelding now, he is a lot more focused,” Michael Hawkes said.
“Unfortunately with Fastnet Rock colts not many people want to geld them but to Segenhoe’s credit they did and he has now won a Villiers.
“Early days he raced behind Pierro, the likes of All Too Hard as a colt, he is a gelding now, he might shape up in the autumn, maybe Brisbane and then possibly the spring. He’s improving with racing.”
The Villiers Stakes winner is now expempt from the ballot for the Doncaster Mile and Team Hawkes will now spell Ninth Legion before preparing him for the Autumn Carnival and maybe the Brisbane Winter Carnival.
“This horse is still improving so he might get there,” said co-trainer John Hawkes.
“We will take it one step at a time but since he has been gelded, he wants to be a racehorse now.”
Ninth Legion has now earned $430,000 in prizemoney from five wins and three placings from eighteen starts with Team Hawkes confident there are many wins to come in the future.