Team Hawkes admit it is a tough first-up assignment for Headwater taking on Golden Slipper winner Vancouver in the 2015 San Domenico Stakes this weekend, but also one the smart colt is more than ready for.
Nominations for Saturday’s $125,000 Group 3 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens are led by the returning Gai Waterhouse-trained Vancouver.
The very valuable stallion prospect is out to keep his flawless four-from-four record in check with a first-up win to kick off a big spring, the Medaglia D’Oro colt favourite for Sydney’s Golden Rose next month and the Caulfield Guineas in Melbourne in October.
Another one of the headline San Domenico Stakes hopes this spring is Exceed And Excel colt Headwater who also returns to racing and is a Golden Slipper graduate from the autumn as a two-year-old.
A winner of two of his four starts, Headwater’s biggest success on the track to date was his returning win on February 21 last campaign in the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m).
From there he first encountered Vancouver when third to Waterhouse’s young star in the Group 2 Todman Stakes (1200m) in early March before his fifth in the $3 million Group 1 Golden Slipper (1200m) on March 21.
Headwater has twice trialled since the Golden Slipper, where he crossed under two lengths off the winner with Glen Boss in the saddle.
He won his first trial on July 24 at Warwick Farm over 740m and then crossed a close second to Deploy over 900m at Rosehill on August 4 in a hit-out that also featured Chris Waller’s Group 1 JJ Atkins winning Hinchinbrook colt Press Statement (3rd).
Connections of Headwater are now looking forward to his official spring kick-off this weekend where Vancouver could be vulnerable under the set weights plus penalties conditions of the sprint feature.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes, who operates in partnership with his brother Wayne and his Hall of Fame father John, declared “bring it on” when asked about another rematch with Vancouver on Saturday.
“[Vancouver] is a champion horse but they’re all there to get beaten. Bring it on, we are going to meet him sometime,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
If he lines-up in the San Domenico Stakes field this weekend, Blake Shinn will partner Headwater for the first time since his third in the Todman.
There is also still a chance Headwater will resume in Melbourne on Saturday in the $150,000 Group 3 Vain Stakes (1100m) instead.
“We are flexible with our horses and try to place in best advantage and if that means going to Melbourne we have that option with the stables down there. We are keeping that option open,” Hawkes added.
Other notable San Domencio Stakes entries looking to stake early claims on the upcoming three-year-old features including the Golden Rose on September 12 include the Godolphin-raced Haptic last seen running 12th in the Golden Slipper, Kindergarten Stakes third placegetter Redzel representing Peter & Paul Snowden and the Waller-trainer Japonisme after his fourth win on the trot.
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