Saturday marked the perfect return to racing from the Team Hawkes-trained sprinter Our Boy Malachi who saluted for the punters in the Expressway Stakes 2016 at Rosehill in his first run since last winter.
The Top Echelon seven-year-old suffered a bleeding attack during his last place finish in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) in Brisbane last May, a run that followed a brave third to Hot Snitzel in the Group 1 BTC Cup at the same track and distance.
He ran a mediocre trial at Warwick Farm on January 25, but still jumped the $3.30 second favourite in betting for Saturday’s $200,000 Group 2 Expressway Stakes (1200m).
Jockey Tommy Berry continued his association with the super-consistent galloper and put any fears of a ruined career behind with a runaway three length win over the Gerald Ryan-trained mare Solicit ($2.60).
“It’s good to see him back because what happened last prep was a big letdown for [myself], the owners and the Hawkes team,” Berry said post-win.
“You hate seeing that stuff happen to good horses.
“I gave him a couple around the bum because even though he was three in front he was on tired legs and I didn’t know how close they were. He’s got plenty of improvement in him.”
Ridden by Tye Angland, Street Cry five-year-old Solicit was also first-up in the Expressway Stakes having last been seen winning the Group 3 Summoned Stakes (1500m) at Sandown-Hillside in mid-November.
She had three-quarters of a length to spare over the third placegetter in Saturday’s Expressway Stakes, the Rodney Northam-trained Big Money ($8.50).
An 18 time winner from 22 starts, Our Boy Malachi remains unbeaten from three runs at Rosehill and is on track for another shot at an elite level success this autumn.
His only two Group 1 runs to date were the Brisbane winter assignments from last year, co-trainer Michael Hawkes keen to run the ‘Rockhampton Rocket’ in top company again after his exciting and emotional return.
Originally prepared in Queensland, Our Boy Malachi’s breeder Col Donovan passed away just over 12 months ago and Hawkes was thrilled to see the horse back to his best.
“I just stood back and watched,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday.
“It’s probably a bit emotional, but to get him back and do what he’s done [is fantastic].”
Hawkes said the team were originally considering bypassing the Expressway Stakes based on the wet weather in Sydney, but the decision to run the evergreen champ proved the right move.
“We were 50-50 on running him this morning, I’ll be honest. Do we or don’t we?,” he said.
“You know he’s got the form on the board with the wet tracks, but it’s always in the back of your mind. You’ve got to be mindful of it. He’s a racehorse and has got a will to win.”
Our Boy Malachi could now head down for the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival features or stay in Sydney where he will likely clash with star stablemate Chautauqua.
Encosta De Lago five-year-old Chautauqua was last seen running second to Delectation in the Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m) at Flemington during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The $3.4 million earning grey is scheduled to bypass the Victorian sprint classics this time in like the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes on February 20 and the Newmarket Handicap on Super Saturday in March.
Instead he will return in Sydney targeting a title defence in the $2.5 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) second-up at Royal Randwick in April, a race Our Boy Malachi could also head towards.
“He [Our Boy Malachi] might have to meet a grey horse [Chautauqua], but you know what? It doesn’t matter. As long as he’s still racing like this and has the will to win you’ve got to take them on,” Hawkes said.
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2016 Expressway Stakes Results
Rosehill Race 7 – 30/01/2016
|1||4||OUR BOY MALACHI||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Tommy Berry||–||4||58.5kg||$3.30|
|2||7||SOLICIT||Gerald Ryan||Tye Angland||3L||5||56.5kg||$2.60F|
|3||5||BIG MONEY||Rodney Northam||Robert Thompson||3.8L||2||58.5kg||$8.50|
|4||2||TIGER TEES (NZ)||Joseph Pride||Hugh Bowman||4.4L||1||58.5kg||$5.50|
|5||1||RIVER LAD||Kris Lees||Christian Reith||4.6L||6||58.5kg||$21|
|6||6||FORGET||Kim Waugh||Blake Shinn||11L||3||58.5kg||$20|
|–||8||KING’S TROOP||Gerald Ryan||Tim Clark||–||0||–||–|
|–||3||GENERALIFE||John O’Shea||James McDonald||–||0||–||–|