On Monday Kyneton-based trainer Neil Dyer will saddle-up his veteran stayer Hawks Bay for their incredible fifth straight Darwin Cup appearance, the eight-year-old shooting for their third consecutive win in the Top End classic.
Black Hawk gelding Hawks Bay ran in their first Darwin Cup at Fannie Bay Racecourse back in 2009 when finishing a brave second after being blocked for a run behind Activation.
They were second again in the 2000m showdown the following year too, this time defeated by the barest of margins when a nose away from the winner Shout Out Loud.
Finally the Darwin Cup trophy was theirs in 2011 when the galloper returned for a third time, this time carrying a hefty 62kg, to put an impressive four lengths on Palmyra Boy in the Carlton Mid-sponsored race.
Then last year Hawks Bay made it a Darwin Cup double bravely carrying 64.5kg to a nose win over Bolton in the feature that this year is worth a lucrative $200,000 in total prize money for the first time.
While Hawks Bay certainly has the fairytale to write and the experience to boot they are going to have to dig deep to make it a trifecta after being handed 65kg in the 2013 Darwin Cup weights.
Their lead-up form also leaves a fair bit to be desired, Hawks Bay not having won a race since last year’s Darwin Cup.
Their most recent effort over the Fannie Bay mile was a disappointing one too last Saturday as they were beaten nearly 11 lengths finishing seventh to Spartan Eagle in the Metric Mile.
“He got caught in without a lot of galloping room and, as we know, at Fannie Bay you’ve got to get rolling a long way out,” the Herald Sun reported Dyer as saying.
They carried 66kg there to Spartan Eagle’s 55kg and it could end up a similar result on Monday with the Bob Richard-trained Spartan Eagle the early Darwin Cup betting favourite.
The Niello six-year-old, who has in fact won their past four on the trot including the Metric Mile by a huge six lengths over Palmyra Boy, must handle a rise in weights however going up to 56kg after being handled a two kilo penalty.
Dyer however is keeping his chin up and praying his old warhorse can surprise him again after bouncing back from a sixth (of eight runners) in last year’s Metric Mile before winning their second Darwin Cup.
The 2013 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup field and barriers are due for release shortly so stay tuned to Races.com.au.
In the meantime why not treat yourself to a bonus bet valued up to $500 by simply open in a new account at bookmaker.com.au, depositing and quoting the code BONUSBET!