Lady Sharapova to Take Flight on Firmer Track

Team Hawkes will have runners in all four Group 1 races around Australia this weekend including promising filly Lady Sharapova who is set to improve on her two recent defeats in Sydney’s Flight Stakes 2014.

Toydini

Epsom Handicap hope Toydini is one of four Group 1 runners for Team Hawkes this weekend. Photo: Steve Hart.

Last time out the three-year-old daughter of Fastnet Rock ran a disappointing sixth to First Seal when beaten over four lengths in the Group 2 Tea Rose Stakes (1400m) at Randwick on September 20.

Before that she came closer on a Heavy (9) when a strong third to the Paul Messara-trained Panzer Division in the Group 3 Ming Dynasty Quality (1400m) on September 6.

Despite what those two results indicate, co-trainer Michael Hawkes said she hates a wet track and that her below par Tea Rose performance could be credited to her coming off the muddy Ming Dynasty run.

“She was a tad disappointing last start but it came off a run on a heavy track, which she hates, and that’s all we can put it down too,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

Hawkes then is tipping her to improve on Saturday when she returns to Royal Randwick and steps up in class for a shot at the $400,000 Group 1 Flight Stakes (1600m).

“I can’t fault her on her work,” he said.

“It is a small field and I think an even field and she is a quality filly that should be right in it.”

A winner of just one of her five starts to date, Lady Sharapova’s only victory was a first-up effort over 1250m at Canterbury when she defeated Twirl by a length at the start of August.

She’s been racing in top company since her third on debut to Marcado in the Listed Talindert Stakes (1100m) at Flemington in mid-February however.

Her other juvenile run last campaign was a sixth to subsequent Golden Slipper third placegetter Bring Me The Maid in the Group 2 Magic Night Stakes (1200m) in March, a race where she was unsuited to the Heavy (8) Sydney track.

As well as this weekend’s Flight Stakes, Lady Sharapova is also nominated for the $750,000 Group 3 Caulfield Classic (2000m) on Caulfield Cup Day, October 18.

The other Team Hawkes-trained Group 1 runners this weekend meanwhile are Entirely Platinum in Melbourne’s Turnbull Stakes (2000m) at Flemington, fellow 2014 Caulfield Cup hope La Amistad in the The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick and Toydini in the other major Sydney feature – the $500,000 Epsom Handicap (1600m).

Formerly prepared by the late Guy Walter, connections of Bernardini gelding Toydini say it will be an emotional tribute to a great man, trainer and friend should he win the Epsom.

“It was just a tragedy what happened with Guy,” co-owner and breeder Bob Bergstrom said on Tuesday.

“He was our trainer and our friend, and I’m sure if Toydini wins on Saturday we will quickly be thinking of him.

“He trained his mother and a lot of our horses and we always thought it would be him to get a Group 1 for us.

“(Former Epsom Handicap and Doncater Mile runner-up) Johan’s Toy has been close to that Group 1 so many times and even last year when Toydini ran third in the Epsom.”

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