An impressive pedigree and a winning return to the track in Saturday’s 2016 Kensington Stakes has co-trainer Wayne Hawkes talking up the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival Group 1 chances of young colt Headwater.
The son of Exceed And Excel took his record to three wins from nine starts with a first-up success over Bullpit (2nd) and The Quarterback (3rd) in the $120,000 Listed Kensington Stakes (1000m) down the Flemington straight.
It was the three-year-old’s first run since a dead last when eighth to Lumosty in the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint over the same distance back in October last spring, and his first win since the Group 2 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill in February of 2015.
Ridden by Dwayne Dunn the Kensington Stakes winner was back to the same flying form that saw him cross a gallant fourth when beaten just one and a half lengths by champion sprinter Buffering in the Group 1 Moir Stakes (1000m) at Moonee Valley last year.
That was his second elite level run following a fifth when beaten under two lengths by Vancouver in last autumn’s Group 1 Golden Slipper Stakes (1200m), and Hawkes is convinced the up-and-comer has an elite level win in him this time in.
“I don’t yell and scream too much, but he half-blundered the start and it worked to our advantage,” Hawkes told Racing Victoria post-win on Saturday.
“He had the good suck in behind Bullpit, and when he popped out, he really pinned his ears back.
“He just wasn’t his go in the spring, he wasn’t quite right – he ran a really good race at Moonee Valley, but wasn’t quite right.
“This autumn, he’s been back on song.
“I told the owners, ‘We’ve got nowhere to hide today’, he really has to step up and run big today, and that’s what he did.”
Headwater’s sire Exceed And Excel won the 2004 Newmarket Handicap and his dam River Dove took out the 2013 Oakleigh Plate.
Both of these Group 1 autumn features could now be on the cards for Headwater with the $500,000 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) held at Caulfield on February 27 and the $1.25 million Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on March 12.
“He’s by a Newmarket Handicap winner out of an Oakleigh Plate winner, and there’d be very few horses anywhere in the country with a fatter pedigree than that,” Hawkes said of the colt that is part-owned by Neil Werrett of Black Caviar fame.
“He’s a Group 2-winning two-year-old, so he’s got a berth next to the two Caulfield Guineas winners – All Too Hard and Press Statement.
“He ran fifth in a Golden Slipper, Bossy couldn’t have given him a better ride then, he only got beaten a length.
“It’s good to get him back in winning form.”
Kensington Stakes winning jockey Dunn was also full of post-race praise for the young galloper who he believes is deserving of tougher autumn assignments.
“We had a really big opinion of him. He won his first two starts,” Dunn said.
“They don’t get an easy life these horses, they have to go to the top level very quickly.
“He just was in the wilderness last preparation, but he trialled really well and was more relaxed this time in, and hopefully he can reach the heights we think he can.”
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2016 Kensington Stakes Results
Flemington Race 7 – 30/01/2016
|1||8||HEADWATER||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Dwayne Dunn||–||4||54kg||$6|
|2||10||BULLPIT||Danny O’Brien||Craig Williams||0.2L||2||54kg||$9|
|3||1||THE QUARTERBACK||Robbie Griffiths||Matthew Allen||0.95L||8||60kg||$7.50|
|4||7||THE MONSTAR||Brett Cavanough||Daniel Stackhouse||1.05L||6||55.5kg||$13|
|5||9||STRATURBO||Gary Portelli||Dean Yendall||1.45L||3||54kg||$31|
|6||5||WILD RAIN||Mark Kavanagh||Glen Boss||1.65L||1||56.5kg||$4.60F|
|7||4||HARD STRIDE||Mathew Ellerton & Simon Zahra||Damian Lane||1.75L||10||57.5kg||$14|
|8||6||YESTERDAY’S SONGS||Michael Moroney||Damien Oliver||2.15L||9||56.5kg||$7.50|
|9||11||PINK PERFECTION||Peter G Moody||Regan Bayliss (a)||4.15L||5||54kg||$10|
|10||2||ICONIC||Tony McEvoy||Luke Currie||5.15L||7||59kg||$16|
|11||3||BARBED||John O’Shea||Ben Melham||5.65L||11||58kg||$19|