Hawkes’ Hilal emerges as autumn contender
Hilal has underlined the depth in Hawkes Racing’s two-year-old ranks with a breathtaking performance to win his first start at Randwick’s Kensington track.
The stable has already produced exciting youngster Remarque but he may have some competition for top billing among the Team Hawkes colts.
Ridden by Tommy Berry, Hilal looked certain to finish an unlucky second after Hugh Bowman on King Of Sparta shot to a commanding lead halfway up the straight.
But Hilal knuckled down and gave chase, attacking the line with gusto to run down King Of Sparta in an effort that impressed Bowman almost as much as Berry.
“The way Hughie let down at the furlong, I just didn’t think I could catch him but when I pulled my stick through to my right and gave him a smack he lengthened very nicely,” Berry said.
“I just loved his last 100. He’s got a great attitude for a colt and he really wanted to find the line.
“When I pulled up I was cantering back to the line with Hugh and I said, ‘I bet you couldn’t believe you got beat and he said, ‘I was just about to say the same thing’.
“He thought he couldn’t get beat the way he let down, but I guess it shows the quality of this colt today.”
Starting a $3 favourite, Hilal scored by a long neck over King Of Sparta ($10) with Star Thoroughbreds youngster Divina ($26) another 1-1/2 lengths away.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes indicated Hilal had replicated the promise he had shown on the trial and training tracks but stopped short of comparing him to Remarque.
Both juveniles will be given every opportunity to prove themselves this autumn and Hawkes says they are in training at the right time of year to work their way into the feature races, including the Golden Slipper.
“We don’t compare two-year-olds. We’ve got a lot of nice horses at home and we try and put them in the right races where they can win,” Hawkes said.
“It’s a starting point and where he ends up is up to him but he looks like he is going to want some ground and he’s a really nice colt going forward.”