Past Winners » Hawkbill
The Gurkha is a worthy favourite for the Eclipse on Saturday, but he is shorter than he should be in my book. He is a top class horse who is capable of better, but it may be that the market has got a little carried away with his unlucky-looking run in the St James’s Palace Stakes, when he got going late and just failed to run down Galileo Gold.
He is bred for it, but he still has to prove that he can stay 10 furlongs on soft ground, and it could be very soft on Saturday. Also, he has to step up on the bare figures if he is going to beat Time Test and My Dream Boat, and he had a hard race at Ascot. As well as that, only two three-year-olds have won the race in the last decade, Golden Horn and Sea The Stars, both truly exceptional three-year-olds. All that into the mix, and I am happy to be against The Gurkha at no better than 5/4.
I really like Time Test as a horse, but he is surely going to seriously struggle on the likely soft ground on Saturday. They took him out of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot when the ground was easy, but probably not as bad as the likely ground on Saturday. He can’t run to his true potential on Saturday surely, not on that ground. All the vibes about him running are positive thus far this week, and connections have even supplemented a pacemaker for him, but there has to be a serious chance that he will not run if the weather forecast is correct.
My Dream Boat is a big player, he loves Sandown and he goes well on soft ground, but he is priced up just about right, whereas I think that the 8/1 at which we can back old friend Hawkbill is too big, and I am backing him at that.
We had him on side at a decent price when he won a listed race at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting. He was desperately weak in the market that day on his seasonal debut, but he stayed on really well to beat Abdon, who was sent off as joint-favourite for the Tercentenary Stakes at Royal Ascot.
I was a bit annoyed when Hawkbill followed up by winning that Tercentenary Stakes, not only because he beat the horse that we backed – fellow Godolphin horse Prize Money – into second place, but because Hawkbill was close to being a bet in the race.
There was a lot to like about that performance too. He and Prize Money chased the early pace that the other Godolphin horse in the race, Race Day, set, and the pair of them had it between them from the top of the home straight. Hawkbill was keener than ideal through the early stages of that race, but he kept on really well through the final furlong to win well.
He has to step up again on that run if he is to win an Eclipse, but he left the impression that he won with plenty in hand that day from a talented and well-fancied rival, with the pair of them clear.
He continues to progress, and he could progress significantly on the bare form of his Tercentenary Stakes win. That was just the seventh run of his life, and he has won his last five. There is no telling how high he can go.
Ten furlongs is his trip, and he goes well on soft ground. His last two wins have been on easy ground, and his two previous wins were on slow Polytrack. Also, his keen-going style of racing is well-suited to Sandown, and he should do even better if he can settle just a little more through the early stages of his races. He is very interesting and, even though he is also a three-year-old, he is well over-priced in my book at 8/1. He is a definite intended runner, he was supplemented to the race on Monday, and the race could cut up. The ground will surely be too soft for Exosphere and for Cougar Mountain, and Deauville is reportedly an unlikely runner. There is a good each-way shape to the race, so he is a good each-way bet.
HAWKBILL WON (ADV 8/1, SP 6/1)