A merry dance

Team Hawkes colt ex­ceeds ex­cite­ment

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - RAY THOMAS

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

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