In an effort to sharpen their galloper up in the 2014 Epsom Handicap on Saturday Team Hawkes will add blinkers to the gear of Bernardini gelding Toydini for the Royal Randwick showdown.
The Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes-trained five-year-old is one of the confirmed acceptors for the $500,000 Group 1 The Star Epsom Handicap (1600m) in Sydney this weekend.
Despite a disappointing last start effort, Toydini is also one of the five single-figure fancies in the futures Epsom Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $7.50 in the all-in markets.
Last start he raced in elite level company at the track second-up in the Group 1 George Main Stakes (1600m), a race that has produced four of the past 10 Epsom Handicap winners.
Backing up from a nice third to Lucia Valentina in the Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) a fortnight earlier, Toydini over-raced in the mid stages of the George Main after being eased back from near last and was forced to make a wide run on the turn for home.
Subsequently he was never really in contention and finished three and a half lengths away eighth, beating home just two rivals, behind the Chris Waller-trained winner Sacred Falls.
Allocated the 59kg top weight for the Epsom, Waller’s George Main champ Sacred Falls won’t be backing up this weekend and instead goes to Melbourne on October 11 for the Caulfield Stakes.
Toydini meanwhile will be out to improve on his George Main performance when contesting the Epsom Handicap for the second straight year.
Twelve months ago in backed up off a Group 3 Cameron Handicap win over the 1500m at Newcastle and was beaten only a quarter length when third to Boban (1st) and his then stable mate Streama (2nd) in the Epsom.
He carried 54kg from a wide barrier 13 (of 16) draw that day and goes up 1.5kg to 55.5kg for this year’s Epsom.
To help get him over the line connections add a set of blinkers in a vital gear change to help break his maiden status for the stable – Toydini previously prepared by the late Guy Walter.
Saturday will be the first time he wears the blinkers since his juvenile season and James McDonald takes over from Corey Brown being the reins.
“He has been coming along nicely, his first two runs for us have both had merit but we are going to put the blinkers on this week,” co-trainer Michael Hawkes told TVN.
“The George Main Stakes was a slowly run race and he was back in the field, I thought his effort was good considering.
“Hopefully with the blinkers on it will switch him on and get that extra effort required on Saturday.”
Top weight with 58kg is the reigning Epsom Handicap winner Boban, a $7 chance through Ladbrokes.com.au trailing Rock Sturdy ($4), and the fellow Waller-trained duo of Royal Descent ($4.80) and He’s Your Man ($6).
The Epsom Handicap 2014 final acceptances close at 10am on Wednesday with the field and barriers to be published here at Races.com.au.
Before then take your last opportunity to lock in your selections for Saturday’s majors online at Ladbrokes.com.au in their juicy futures markets before the field is released tomorrow!