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John Thompson has identified October’s The Metropolitan 2016 as the main spring target for his recent stable acquisition Sir John Hawkwood.
The eight-year-old Sir Percy gelding joined Thompson’s Sydney base a fortnight back, the evergreen veteran having yet another stable change.
A winner of seven of his 26 career starts to date for just over $620,000 in prize money, Sir John Hawkwood has previously been prepared by the likes of Craig Ritchie, Peter Moody and David Vandyke.
Thompson said the stayer, who was last seen running a close second when narrowly defeated by Benzini in the Group 2 Brisbane Cup (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 11, was fast becoming a stable favourite.
“He’s a lovely horse. An older horse that’s been around the world but he’s a real stable favourite – he’s just a beautiful old gelding, the whole staff has fallen in love with him,” Thompson told Racenet this week.
“An older horse like that you have to try suck as much information out of the owner and the jockeys that have ridden him to get an idea of what to do with him going forward.
“Blake Spriggs has been riding him in work. He’s been associated with him for a fair while now and he says he feels as good as he ever has.”
Thompson was also quick to credit the horse’s latest trainer Vandyke, who is now based at the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, for having Sir John Hawkwood in such good form heading into his eight-year-old season.
“Trainers like David that have had success with him, it’s a credit to them because he’s an eight-year-old now and he’s still a sound, happy horse,” he said.
First-up last time in the European-import won Rosehill’s Group 3 Sky High Stakes (2000m) before three other Group placings including in the Brisbane Cup over his autumn – winter prep.
He is as yet untested in elite level company, something Thompson hopes to change this campaign naming the $750,000 Group 1 The Metropolitan (2400m) at Royal Randwick on Epsom Handicap Day, October 1, as the main spring aim for Sir John Hawkwood.
“We’re aiming at the Metropolitan and depending on how he goes in that we’ll decide whether he stays at home for the Tatts Cup or moves on to Melbourne,” he said.
“I’ve only had him two weeks but from what we’ve seen so far he’s going very well.”
The $100,000 Listed City Tattersall’s Club Cup (2400m) is held back at Randwick a fortnight after The Metropolitan, but if he measures up Sir John Hawkwood could run in Melbourne’s $3 million Group 1 Caulfield Cup (2400m) on the same October 15 meeting.
Thompson has saddled-up five previous The Metropolitan Handicap runners over the years without success.
Along with Sir John Hawkwood he also has the likes of lightly raced Le Harve six-year-old Orbec who ran fourth to Magic Hurricane (2015) in the race last year and Danjeu, formerly with dual The Metropolitan winning trainer Chris Waller, heading towards the race this October.
Age is against Sir John Hawkwood heading into this year’s edition of the mile and a half showdown as no eight-year-old or even seven-year-old has won the race in the past 30 plus years.
The 2016 Caulfield Cup nominations are due out this afternoon and Taufan’s Melody (1998) was the last eight-year-old winner of the opening leg of the Spring Cups double.
In the past 11 years two Caulfield Cup winners came off a run in The Metropolitan over the same distance in Sydney with both Railings (2005) and Tawqeet (2006) winning the double back-to-back.
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