Hawkes Racing will chase their seventh Silver Slipper Stakes trophy this weekend at Rosehill Gardens with untapped colt Headwater lining up in the Sydney showdown for the stable.
A son of Exceed And Excel, two-year-old Headwater won his race debut at Moonee Valley back in December and now makes his Sydney debut in this weekend’s $250,000 Group 2 Blackwoods Uvex Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m).
A traditional lead-up to the $3.5 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) back at the track on March 21, the Silver Slipper field is down to just seven runners this year following the early scratching of the John O’Shea-trained Holler.
Godolphin’s remaining hope in the race Ottoman leads the Silver Slipper Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au, the smart Exceed And Excel filly paying $2.40 to retain her undefeated status.
Headwater meanwhile occupies the second line of Silver Slipper Stakes betting at $3 after firming right in from $4.80 earlier in the week.
Drawn well in barrier three for jockey Blake Shinn, the young gun took out the $80,000 Cactus Imaging Plate over 1000m at Moonee Valley in late December before being turned out for a spell.
He returns from that freshen-up on the weekend coming off a third to Malmsteen in a 900m Rosehill barrier trial from February 17.
Jockey Tommy Berry, who is without a Silver Slipper mount on Saturday, rode him in that trial and was full of praise saying he was the one to beat.
The horse certainly comes from the right stable for a win.
Team Hawkes have won an incredible six editions of the Silver Slipper Stakes with: Strategic (1994), Clang (1995), Domesday (2005), Plagiarize (2006), Shaft (2007) and most recently Mossfun (2014) who went on to also win the Golden Slipper last Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his brother Wayne and Hall of Fame father John, said Headwater was on track to hand them a record seventh win in the race – the boom youngster freshened-up well since his debut.
“Headwater has spent the majority of the time in Melbourne but he has been here at Rosehill for nearly three weeks now and has settled in well,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“The Sydney way of going doesn’t faze him, he has had plenty of experience galloping this way.
Futures Golden Slipper odds at Ladbrokes.com.au meanwhile are led by Headwater’s main danger on Saturday, Ottoman ($7), who shares top spot with the Gai Waterhouse-trained Vancouver.
Vancouver was to have run this weekend but five-time Golden Slipper winning trainer Waterhouse opted to save him for the $300,000 Group 2 Todman Slipper Trial (1200m) at Royal Randwick on March 7.
That was the right decision according to jockey Berry who rode the undefeated colt for the second win of his career in the Group 3 Canonbury Stakes (1100m) on January 31.
“I think it’s a good a move because otherwise he would’ve gone four weeks without a run going into the Golden Slipper,” he said on Thursday.
“And I’ve still got a very handy book of rides (at Rosehill on Saturday) and have a genuine chance of winning two stakes races.”
Headwater meanwhile is an $11 chance to win the Golden Slipper, a price set to firm if he beats Ottoman in the Silver Slipper.
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