James McDonald will be hoping for a quick return...
This Saturday in Sydney the Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained Messene will kick off their season with a 2014 Missile Stakes run looking to repeat the win of his sire Lonhro 12 years earlier.
Prepared by Hall of Famer John Hawkes, who now trains in partnership with his two sons, Lonhro enjoyed a big four length Missile Stakes victory back in 2002.
Lonhro is one of four Missile Stakes winners for Hawkes along with Guineas (1997), Commands (1999) and Love Conquers All (2010).
Now a son of Lonhro Messene will be after the same title in the $175,000 Group 2 event over 1200m at Randwick this weekend to start what will hopefully be another stellar campaign from the exciting galloper.
Their last race was back in April and co-trainer Michael Hawkes is thrilled with their current conditions.
“He’s done everything right, his trials have been super, and he really looks outstanding,” he told The Daily Telegraph this week.
“His coat is not there yet, he still has his winter coat, and he will definitely improve with the run.
“But he’s forward enough to run a big race and he is really one to keep an eye on this season.”
The now six-year-old strung together seven on the trot from March last year through to their Group 2 Ajax Stakes (1500m) win at Rosehill this March.
The Ajax Stakes was their maiden Group assignment and they surged through late displaying a scintillating turn of foot to beat home the Chris Waller-trained Weary by three lengths in a top effort.
Hawkes however rates the end of that excellent winning streak when beaten in the Group 1 Doncaster Mile (1600m) as the best of his runs.
“I know he had that long winning streak but when he ran seventh in the Doncaster Mile, it was probably his best performance,”’ Hawkes said.
On a Heavy (9) Randwick track they made the step up to Group 1 company and despite the unsuitable conditions, and getting caught wide with no cover, they held on for seventh – Ajax Stakes runner-up Weary running third.
“He didn’t handle the heavy track at all but still ran a great race,” Hawkes added.
“Corey Brown got off Messene after the Doncaster and said `wow, what a super horse’.”
Team Hawkes then are eagerly awaiting the new-season return of Messene on Saturday where they face another test, going up to weight-for-age class.
It’s the season’s opening WFA event and also the horse’s first go but they look suited to the conditions with nice tactical speed, acceleration and ability to relax and adapt to any race pace.
“Messene is obviously going to the next grade up, weight-for-racing,” Hawkes said.
They look race fit after two good Rosehill trials over 900m, most recently behind their promising stablemate Entirely Platinum on Monday and are one of four single figure Missile Stakes hopes at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Markets for the clash are led by the Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane ($3.60) and Gai Waterhouse’s resuming mare Sweet Idea ($3.80).
Messene meanwhile pays $4 after drawing barrier one with last season’s top Sydney hoop James McDonald in the saddle, the inside alley a definite advantage.
“He’s drawn the gun barrier and he puts himself into a race and that is a big advantage,” Hawkes said.
“He still has to do it at weight-for-age and this will be a good test for the horse but we are happy with how he is coming up for the spring.”
If all goes to plan and Messene comes back as well as expected then they will continue their Sydney Spring Racing Carnival campaign with a shot at the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) back at Randwick on October 4.
Hawkes also hasn’t ruled out a trip to Melbourne where the $3 million Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) at Moonee Valley on October 25 could possibly be on the agenda.
“We have a really good stable of horses going forward this spring and we hope Messene is one of them,” he said.
“Messene is very relaxed now and although he is bound for the Epsom Handicap we may try him over further later in the spring.”
Futures Cox Plate betting on the nominees opened at Ladbrokes.com.au this week and Messene is paying $21 to win.
So back them now for the weekend and in the Cox Plate odds online at Ladbrokes Australia where you can get instant access to your account balance in cash from any ATM in the country thanks to their Ladbrokes Card!
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