Experienced gelding Hawks Bay has returned to the Northern Territory before his defence of the $180,000 2012 Darwin Cup (2000m) next month.
The Victorian-based six-year-old took was dominant when taking out the 2011 event by four lengths and trainer Neil Dyer is expecting him to again produce a good performance.
“Without getting too carried away I’d like to think he can go back to back,” Dyer said.
“There is a long way to go yet but we are pretty happy with him at the moment.”
It is the son of Black Hawk’s fourth Darwin Cup campaign, having finished runner-up twice before the impressive win last year.
The success of Hawks Bay has seen the horse become a crowd favourite, with Dyer suggesting he had legendary status at the Fannie Bay track.
“He is becoming a bit of a legend up here as well. I don’t like saying that sort of stuff but it is definitely the case,” Dyer said.
“The crowd would be fantastic if he went back to back.”
Hawks Bay arrived in the Northern Territory capital last week and signalled his potential to go back-to-back with a stunning win under testing conditions in the Roant Gold Cup.
Carrying a massive 63kg, the veteran of 49 starts produced a stunning run to win by 2 1/2 lengths in the 1300-metre race which is well short of his ideal distance.
The performance surprised even his trainer who was just hoping he would finish the race off well in preparation for his cup defence.
“To do what he did was a bit mind boggling,” Dyer said.
The winner of more than $670,000 in prize money will have two more lead-up runs to the Darwin Cup in the Chief Minister’s Cup on July 14 before the Metric Mile two weeks later.
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