A merry dance
Team Hawkes colt exceeds excitement
EXCEEDANCE equals exciting.
That was the only way to describe the boom Team Hawkes three-yearold after his outstanding return to racing in the Group 3 $160,000 San Domenico Stakes (1100m) at Rosehill Gardens yesterday.
Bivouac was sent out a long oddson favourite and rank outsider Royal Popcorn also received plenty of prerace attention, but Exceedance was the only horse everyone was talking about after the race.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes gave jockey Tommy Berry simple instructions: “Ride Exceedance like he is the best horse and let him do the rest.’’
Berry did just that, riding a stalking race on Exceedance, following Bivouac into the straight before the colt unleashed a powerful sprint.
Hawkes said, although the heavy track wasn’t ideal for Exceedance’s first-up run, the decision to start the colt paid off with a Group 3 success.
“We really had to run today,’’ he said. “He had never raced on a wet track before so we weren’t really sure.
“But if we wait two weeks (Run To The Rose) and strike another wet track, then we are in the same boat.
“He’s a brilliant colt, he showed that last time in and he has made it look easy today. It’s only his third start. He’s a very exciting colt.’’
Exceedance ($4.80) sprinted clear of Bivouac ($1.35) to win by two lengths, with early leader Anaheed ($9) a short-head away third.
Catch Me struggled in the going and finished more than seven lengths away in fourth, while $101 outsider Royal Popcorn finished at the rear of the five-horse field, beaten just over 13 lengths, picking up $5000 prizemoney in the process.
Berry — in the enviable position of being first-choice for arguably the two best three-year-olds in training, Exceedance and boom filly Libertini — said his confidence soared on the way to the barriers with the colt at ease in the heavy going.
“He felt very confident in it so I was pretty confident before they jumped,’’ Berry said. “It’s always a bit scary because you don’t know how they’re going to come back but the Hawkes stable do it year after year; especially the three-year-olds, they’ve got a great record with them.
“Exceedance is an absolute pleasure to have anything to do with. This bloke, I’m just full of praise for him.
“I can’t believe I’ve ridden two three-year-olds in two weeks who’ve got the same temperament, they’re built the same.
Exceedance has now firmed from $11 to $4.50 favouritism for the Group 1 $1 million Golden Rose (1400m) at Rosehill on September 28.
Hawkes confirmed that was the obvious target for Exceedance but said the stable would follow its mantra of “one race at a time”. When asked about the Golden Rose, Hawkes said: “We don’t make decisions on race day but that is the plan.
“Where you start and where you finish doesn’t always end up the way you planned but he does look like a horse that will appreciate more ground.’’
Bivouac’s jockey Hugh Bowman said his colt wasn’t as effective on rain-affected ground as he was firstup in the Vain Stakes.
“But take nothing away from the winner who was too good,’’ he said.
Royal Popcorn’s trainer Mike Cattell felt vindicated in starting his three-year-old despite criticism the maiden should not have been allowed to take his place in the field.
“We got beaten a quarter of the distance most thought,’’ Cattell said.
“He had to come back from 1600m to 1100m in two weeks and that is very tough. But I know we have got something with this horse and I’ll aim him for the autumn carnival.’’
Exceedance ploughs through the heavy going to score convincingly from Bivouac and Anaheed. Picture: Simon Bullard