Despite rumours they’d run their last back in April after a failed title defense in the Sydney Cup, the Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes training team have announced the official retirement of stalwart stayer Niwot this week.
Bowing out with a record of nine wins from 38 starts for a total of $1,266,825 in prize money, the Galileo eight-year-old is best known for their half length victory over 2007 Melbourne Cup winner Efficient in last year’s Group 1 Sydney Cup (3200m).
It was an emotional result for Team Hawkes as Niwot completed a sensational comeback having spent nearly two years out of action from 2009 to early 2011 after shattering a knee.
“Basically the vets and everyone else wrote him off and said he should be put down,” co-trainer Michael Hawkes said according to racenet.com.au speaking of the paddock accident that occurred in the winter of 2009.
“It was a long road to get this horse back to full fitness and winning races again. It wasn’t easy and it took a great team effort by a lot of people.
“It was a very special day (Sydney Cup Day).
“When you can get a horse back from the type of injury he suffered and win a Group I race it is unbelievably satisfying.
“He wasn’t the best horse we trained but is a very special horse to the stable.”
Over the years Niwot has also been given their chance at the country’s other major Cup races contesting multiple editions of both the Caulfield Cup (2400m) and the iconic Melbourne Cup (3200m).
His best result was the 2011 Melbourne Cup when first home of the Aussie-bred gallopers to finish four lengths away eighth to the French-trained Dunaden.
Last year he was showing his age when 15th to Green Moon in the ‘race that stops a nation’ before their disappointing autumn campaign that would turn out to be their swansong prep.
“He’d done his job and the horse had no right to have been racing when he was after what he overcame,” Hawkes said.
“He was a true warhorse.
“He was more an old school type of Australian stayer.
“The way the Melbourne Cup has gone didn’t suit him. If he was racing 20 years ago, who knows he may have won the Melbourne Cup.”
Of course this year the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup nominations will be absent his name with Niwot to begin a new career currently learning the equestrian trade.
While the Australian staying ranks may look to be thinning this year’s Caulfield and Melbourne Cups won’t be short of a superstar with a whole host of both local and international gallopers in the mix.
To check out the futures markets before they firm with the release of the official 2013 Caulfield Cup nominations next Tuesday, August 6, head over to bookmaker.com.au where you’ll find all the best spring markets.
Other nominations aside from those for the $2.5 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup on October 19 to come out next Tuesday include those for the Caulfield and Thousand Guineas and the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) which runs at Moonee Valley on October 26.
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