The city came to the country on Saturday for the annual Hawkesbury Cup day stand-alone metropolitan meeting.
At least that’s how it used to feel when I was a small boy being driven home from late night finishes at Richmond Dogs and the nearby Penrith Trots.
Now the district is nothing more than an extension of greater Sydney which can be easily reached in just over an hour’s leisurely drive in the car… and $13.29 in tolls.
No such gripe though amongst the locals who no doubt responsibly utilised the nearby Clarendon station as they flocked out in large numbers in support of the club after last year’s COVID calamity.
It was a second flagship race victory for Archedemus in the Cup after just finishing out of the placings in last year’s event which was forced to be held at Rosehill.
But it was “For Sale” mare Sweat Deal who stole the show with her victory in the Hawkesbury Crown.
Back under the guidance of N Rawiller, in what may well be her last start before going through the ring at the May 9 Inglis Broodmare sale, Nash proved in his return to the big stage after suspension just why he is synonymous with the term ‘given the perfect ride’ amongst Sydney racing scribes.
Group 1 racing in SA, an actioned pack provincial feature meet in NSW and a little taste of what is to come over winter in QLD.
But as a wise old journo once told me, write what you know. And after a lifetime misspent loitering around Sydney race tracks in the dark and one too many sun-up finishes at late night venues on the Gold Coast’s Orchard avenue, it’s the Hawkesbury and Eagle Farm meetings we’re about to review.
Gleneagles (Syd Race 1)
Speaking of wise old racing journo’s, it’s safe to say the scribe that referenced the wins of King Papa and Sky Castle in Sydney’s Sunday paper to highlight the success of first season sire, Capitalist, may not have been at the track as per the title of his feature article, or at the very least not watching the first race, when Gleneagles dashed home for victory in 21.4. Undefeated since joining the Payne stable, he still is a very raw talent but if that win 2nd up Saturday has brought him on any, he’s going to give the upcoming Brisbane features a real shake. Has the right timing about him.
Miss Hipstar (Bris Race 6)
Had an enormous opinion of this filly since I first laid eyes on her on debut. Clearly, L V Cassidy has too as he is yet to get off her back and is unlikely too after Saturday. Whilst not as prominent these days, Larry did sit on the back of the only horse I’ve seen that I think would get Winx off the bridal, Sunline, for the best part of her early career. Whilst not in the same league yet, safe to say he’s a fair judge of talent and his wraps on this girl are big. She makes an Oaks filly on type, and whilst she may well get ground in time, she has certainly kicked off her short course winter campaign in style. Looked to be out sprinted cold by the Neasham filly but ended up crossing the line with a gear in store and a half-length up her sleeve. She is 3 from 5, with two genuine excuse runs particularly The Millions and she just gives the impression that she is going to thrive out in trip over the Winter. Special talent.
Private Eye (Bris Race 7)
Back to “Bris Vegas” again, this time for the Guineas, but with a Sydney horse this time. He’s an Al Maher, so certainly aided by the pre-race downpour and the troubled Eagle Farm surface but he was dead set ‘throw your ticket away’ stuff on the corner. To B Avdulla’s credit, he gave him a good rev-up at just the right time and kept him in the race. And for those padded whip naysayers, watch the ears prick on the line telling you this bloke loved the thrill of the chase. It also tells us he was taking the mickey out of punters which shouldn’t be a problem provided a strong rider stays aboard. Whilst I can read Joe’s mind and agree that getting to Eagle Farm with no weight in a Straddie is tempting unless something reappears out of the Sydney Classics I can’t see what would beat him in the 2000m Rough Habit in a fortnight. Has a future and little fish are sweet.
Trekking (Bris Race 8)
Big push out of the stable that he would be very forward first up on account of the two trials. Whilst it isn’t their general practice for ageing horses, I think it was more a case of looking after him at the trials rather than pushing him along in races. Remember this is a horse that was still contesting G1’s in late November and has had to travel coast to coast and back. Think he just got there a bit too soon Saturday and knocked up late. He was the best horse in that field and the real Trekking just stalks them and pounces late. Think of him nailing Gytrash on the line about this time last year in a Goodwood. He’s a previous Straddie winner and probably best at Eagle Farm but the handicapper will get him there, and I’m tipping the 10,000 in a fortnight is well and truly his race, under WFA conditions otherwise they would have gone back to The Goodwood, set weights and penalties. Will get the tempo off Eduardo who is very suspect at 1200m especially with The Jonker annoying him. Massive improver. Currently $6.
Royal Celebration (Syd Race 8)
Wrote him up last week as being a sound bet for the Scone Cup, and whilst I was keen to have a nibble at him in the Hawkesbury Cup when they trimmed him up at accepts from $4 to $3 I stayed out… Okay, I halved my bet! But the point is the Scone race has always been his target, 4th up, second go at the mile, big track. And whilst Saturday was a good track, I certainly don’t subscribe to the theory about him early doors that he doesn’t go in the wet. His recent record tells otherwise, in fact, I’d double my bet from a good gate with a bit of cut out of the ground in a fortnight’s time. Just a half run short and found a pretty handy one and T/D specialist at that on the weekend. Big margin to 3rd.
Opacity (Syd Race 9)
Right idea to claim on him first up and he was given a peach until the corner. Perhaps lack of experience riding at the circuit told though and Campbell Rawiller probably needed to establish a run before the turn as opposed to waiting until they’d balanced up. Had zero luck after that and certainly wouldn’t be the first hoop to misread the tricky Hawkesbury circuit. I hope they keep him on, because out in trip, 2nd up, back at Bm78 with a 3kg claim, he’s near unbeatable you’d think and you’ll get a price.
Yangtze Rapids (Syd Race 4)
Was a seven start maiden prior to finally breaking his duck last start. Straight to Saturday grade where he was the first horse beaten turning for home.
Varda (Syd Race 6)
Posts a win over Masked Crusader at her best but was far from that with a very muddling effort resuming Saturday. Think she’s very much just a wet tracker.
Looks Like Elvis (Syd Race 8)
Been in Sydney a while now and yet to crack it but was sent out a short quote again. I certainly hope they don’t panic and send him back to QLD. The inside wasn’t the place to be by Race 8 and he can win one back in the right company and the off season Sydney winter is where that’s more likely than in Brisbane.