Darwin Cup legend Hawks Bay could be given the chance to chase his third consecutive victory in the race if all goes to plan in a Victorian campaign that begins this weekend.
Trainer Neil Dyer will leave the seven-year-old at home in Victoria when he takes a team of horses to the Northern Territory in June but hasn’t ruled out giving Hawks Bay another shot at the Cup in August.
The Black Hawk gelding will return from a ligament injury for the first time since last year’s Darwin Cup win in an open handicap at Flemington on Saturday.
The veteran of 52 starts has been allocated the topweight of 60.5kg but is accustomed to carrying big weights.
In last year’s Darwin Cup he carried an incredible 64.5kg to fly down the outside for victory and the year before lugged 62kg to a four-length romp.
His impressive record in Darwin’s major race doesn’t end with the victories, having finishing runner-up in both 2009 and 2010.
Dyer said he would play it “run by run” with the seasoned performer who has won at distances ranging from 1000m-2000m.
In the lead-up to his comeback race this weekend he has won two barrier trials, leaving Dyer confident he can still make an impact as a racehorse.
“He’s been to the trials at Tatura and Wangaratta and won them both pretty well, like the old horse is still there,” Dyer told AAP.
“We’re just having a look at his suspensory [ligament] every day, just making sure nothing deteriorates.”
Among Hawks Bay’s rivals this weekend are Darren Weir’s Streets Away and talented four-year-old Strawberry Boy.