Family ties: John, Michael and Wayne Hawkes at the Randwick yearling sales. Photo: James BrickwoodHawkes Racing has built one of the strongest brands in the sport with planning and efficiency. Michael Hawkes, who shares the training duties with brother Wayne and Hall Of Fame father John, says what the stable has heading into spring is a backbone.
“It is those older horses that give the stable it’s backbone,” Hawkes said. “They are there carnival after carnival and that comes from planning. Our way is to develope our horses. We don’t rush. We want longevity in the stable, horses that race in the autumn and then in the spring and that is what we have tried to develop.
“It is not about the next race often, it about the next preparation and one after that. We have owners who understand patience will bring rewards, and that is part of the success.”
The stable has bases in Sydney and Melbourne overseen by Michael and Wayne respectively, but there is one boss and that is John.
“Wayne and I are just happy that dad is letting us train with him,” Hawkes said. “We are a team but dad is the leader. We enjoy all our successes together because we all work together on them.”
The Hawkes model allows horses time, but it still has the ability to let a Golden Slipper winner come through, such as Mossfun.
“She stood up and did it, and it hurt us when she got that virus and had to go for a break because she is our only group 1 winner. Our only true star,” Hawkes said. “The others we have still have to get to that level.”
But going into the spring there are possibilities for several horses, including Messene and La Amistad, which are knocking on the door of group 1 racing, but winning does not come easy.
“There are a lot of very good horses around and only a certain number of them win group 1s,” Hawkes said. “It is the ultimate and you have to keep that in mind – it is the very top level. I could easily run off half a dozen horses that we have good hopes for, and I think everyone knows who they are, but until they do it, well it is just potential.
“We draw up programs for them, like Messene, to get them to races months and months in advance. In Messene’s case it worked well and even though he didn’t win the Doncaster, it was his best run and we still have a horse that is improving.”
Hawkes Racing’s patience is shown in its runners on Saturday, London Lolly resumes in the Quezette Stakes at Caulfield after not not being pressed one run too far as a two-year-old. She won the Breeders Stakes, a week out from the Golden Slipper, beating subsequent Champagne Stakes winner Go Indy Go, and also has a black-type decision over Slipper placegetter Bring Me The Maid.
However, the Hawkes camp resisted the urge to run in the often gut-busting Slipper
“It is not always about the biggest race, it is about having a filly for next time,” Hawkes said. “She started in Sydney and I really liked her, but she benefitted from going to Melbourne and has great form when you look at it now.
“She is first-up and it is a starting point, but I know Wayne is happy with her going into this race but there is a lot more in front of her.”
Hawkes will oversee a team at Rosehill that has strong formlines, including Entirely Platinum (sixth) and Traitor (fourth), while youngsters Bugatty and Nostradamus look for black-type success in the San Domenico Stakes.
“They are both nice three-year-olds that have trialled well,” Hawkes said of his San Domenico runners. “Bugatty won a trial since failing on a wet track in Melbourne, which we now know he doesn’t like. He will jump and run, whereas Nostradamus is more laid-back. He just does what has to do and he did that at Hawkesbury [winning] a trial on Monday.
“They get their chance to run in these races and they are good enough to be there.”
Five-year-old Entirely Platinum could be the perfect example of the Hawkes philosophy after winning three of his four starts in the autumn, including the Sky High Stakes, he finished his campaign with a fourth in the Neville Sellwood Stakes.
“There is time with him because he is a Pentire that is still maturing and getting better,” Hawkes said. “We might not see his best until the autumn but he is a very good horse and there might be a race for him in the spring.
“He has come back stronger and I think he will run good race on Saturday, but he will get better as the races get longer.”
And there is four-year-old Traitor, which went from a maiden win to group 2 success in four runs in the autumn.
“That was a big step up but we still have a horse that is improving and he could be another horse to step up in the spring,” Hawkes said. “We have a team like that. It gives us a backbone that makes spring exciting and keeps the the stable going.”
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