Darwin Cup legend Hawks Bay will continue his campaign towards a third straight win in the Northern Territory’s biggest race when he contests the $100,000 David Bourke Provincial Plate (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
After two promising runs at Flemington where he carried big weights to finish fourth and third respectively, Hawks Bay suffered a minor hiccup to his Darwin Cup preparation when running ninth in the Swan Hill Cup on June 9.
But trainer Neil Dyer was happy to put the blame on his own shoulders rather than those of the gutsy galloper, suggesting his charge was “underdone” at Swan Hill.
One thing is for sure, the horse who is a legend in the top end will be making a return trip this year.
“We’ll give him another run two weeks after Saturday in the final of the Winter Championship at Flemington over the mile,” Dyer told Racing Victoria.
“We’ll play it by ear but if we need to give him another one after that I can before I float him up to Darwin for the Cup.”
The seven-year-old gelding has etched his name into the Darwin Cup history books with two runner-up finishes at his first two attempts followed by back-to-back victories in the past two years.
Last year the son of Black Hawk sent the crowd crazy when he carried an incredible 64.5kg to storm down the outside and claim victory in the dying stages.
A horse accustomed to carrying big weights, Hawks Bay has been allocated topweight of 60.5kg for Saturday’s hit-out.
One of his more interesting rivals is The Cleaner who has recently arrived from Tasmania.
The five-year-old was a Listed winner in the 2012 Tasmanian Stakes and finished runner-up in February’s Hobart Cup.
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