Returning Hawkes Racing youngster Rageese is going great guns according to co-trainer Wayne Hawkes who believes the Group 1 placed colt can handle the weight-for-age 2016 Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley on Saturday.
One of two three-year-olds in the 13-starter field along with the John O’Shea-trained Group 3 winner Holler, Street Cry colt Rageese is drawn gate nine for his $200,000 Group 2 Jeep Australia Stakes (1200m) assignment.
It is his first time in weight-for-age company and his first start since a gallant fifth behind Chris Waller’s benchmark three-year-old Press Statement in last October’s Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m).
In the Caulfield Guineas Rageese, who was also fourth to Exosphere in the Group 1 Golden Rose (1400m) in Sydney last September, had a hard run from barrier 15 of 16 and finished far better than his $41 price suggested.
“His Caulfield Guineas run was super. He came to the corner smoking his pipe and swinging,” Hawkes told Racing Ahead on RSN this week.
“I pricked my ears coming to the corner, and he only got beaten two lengths.
“To be fair, Press Statement is as good a benchmark as any horse – there’s not too many better three-year-olds around than him.”
Now he returns to racing for his first look at Moonee Valley Racecourse kicking off what the team hopes will be a successful Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival bid for the galloper.
“He’s great and well, a big, tough horse, and if he puts it all together, he’ll be right in the finish on Saturday,” Hawkes said.
It is a wide open Australia Stakes betting market at Ladbrokes.com.au this season with seven of the 13 hopefuls under $10 for the win.
Australia Stakes odds are led by firming favourite Rebel Dane ($3.30) who was last seen running a brave third to a stablemate of Rageese’s Chautauqua in the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) over the same track and distance as this weekend’s feature.
Rageese meanwhile is rated a $9 hope and has jockey Dwayne Dunn aboard for the third time.
Dunn rode the horse for his debut sixth over 1100m at Rosehill in November of 2014 and for his close second when beaten under a length by Pride Of Dubai in the Group 1 ATC Sires’ Produce Stakes (1400m) at Randwick last April.
Other big name hopes in the Australia Stakes field and markets this season include Standish Handicap winner Durendal ($7.50), former Emirates Stakes winner Hucklebuck ($8) and the aforementioned Godolphin-raced colt Holler ($8.50).
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