Chris Waller’s in-form six-year-old Hawk Island looks set for success in this year’s Sydney Cup after the brave galloper secured another win for the season at Randwick last weekend.
Hawk Wing gelding Hawk Island ($3.70F) relished the wet conditions at the Royal Randwick on Saturday carrying a hefty 61kg to score a tidy half length victory over the John Thompson’s Galizani ($5) while the fellow Waller-trained Vintedge ($9) was the same margin back for third in the $100,0900 Listed JRA Plate (2000m).
The black-type victory continued what has been a career best season for Hawk Island.
Earlier in the year he won the Listed Parramatta Cup (2000m) by an easy three and a half lengths at Rosehill before putting in two brave runs at elite level.
Third to Zavite in the Group 1 Ranvet Stakes (2000m) at Rosehill on March 19, Hawk Island also ran an eye-catching fourth behind Cedarberg in the Group 1 The BMW (2400m) on Golden Slipper Day.
Now Waller is hoping Hawk Island can finally break his Group 1 maiden status in the $500,000 Schweppes Sydney Cup (3200m) on Easter Saturday.
After his Randwick win, Hawk Island firmed in from around $16 to a $7 shot in what is shaping up as a wide-open Sydney Cup showdown.
Currently allocated a weight of 54.5kg for the Sydney Cup, Hawk Island is likely to be bumped up to 57kg with the handicaps set to be raised.
“He’s shown he can carry weight and we’ll see how good the rest are next week,” Waller said.
“(The JRA Plate) was his final gallop for the Sydney Cup.
“We thought about not running him but it was worth a bit of prizemoney to win a gallop and that will top him off nicely.”
Waller is confident that Hawk Island has what it takes to win this year’s Cup.
“I reckon he’ll be perfect at two miles, he’s out of a Sadler’s Wells mare,” Waller said.
“It’s not easy to back up but he’s a tough horse and he’s done the mileage.
“We can just back off now, plus he has been set for the Sydney Cup all along.”
There are currently 81 horses heading towards a start in the capacity 15-starter plus four emergencies Sydney Cup field.
Waller is likely to have three starters in the two-mile feature with fellow imports Strike One and Stand To Gain confirmed starters.
The horse that ran second to Hawk Island in the JRA Cup, Galileo mare Galizani is also nominated for the Sydney Cup, the four-year-old having previously won the Listed Epona Stakes (1900m) at Rosehill on March 26.
Other runners that are fancied in the Sydney Cup markets include The BMW runner-up Mourayan ($5.50), Gai Waterhouse’s Johannesburg mare Once Were Wild ($6.50) who won the Group 2 Chairman’s Handicap (2600m) last start and Shinko King gelding C’est La Guerre ($6.50).
The 2011 Schweppes Sydney Cup final field will be released later in the week and published right here at Races.com.au so stay tuned.