By Ray Hickson
At Rosehill Gardens
Unbridled emotion from the Hawkes brothers.
Pride at a job well done from the patriarch John Hawkes.
A ‘Gun’ ride from Brenton Avdulla. Controlled speed by the smart filly Estijaab. And a $1.7m price tag that now looks cheap.
This is the story of the $3.5m Longines Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens – where the fillies dominated and the Hawkes name was etched onto its fourth Slipper trophy.
A take no prisoners ride from Avdulla, using Estijaab’s best weapon – her early speed – to his advantage, was key as the filly assumed control, slightly tempered the speed and gave a kick when it counted to hand him his first Golden Slipper.
Avdulla said is was a special moment and vindicated what he’s thought of Estijaab from the first moment he rode her.
“It’s very emotional, I’ve put in a lot of hard work with the stable and they are very loyal John, Michael and Wayne,’’ Avdulla said.
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“Ever since I’ve been on this girl since day dot she’s given me a special feel.
“You dream of riding Golden Slipper winners, when I was 15 and starting apprentice school I was the biggest in the class and they said I had 12 months in the saddle and then I was going back to school.
“I’ve just won a Slipper, I don’t know what to say.”
It was a fillies trifecta as Estijaab proved just too good for stablemates Oohood and Sunlight with Blue Diamond winner Written By the first colt home in fourth place.
John Hawkes has two Slipper wins in his own name – Guineas (1997) and Forensics (2007) – but takes plenty of joy out of training with his sons Wayne and Michael and Estijaab was his second as a partnership after Mossfun in 2014.
Estijaab carries the same colours as Mossfun and John Hawkes said he owed a lot to Emirates Park which has been a long time supporter of the family since he left the Ingham establishment a decade ago.
"It's a great effort, with the boys and the family. Emirates are great people, they've been loyal supporters,'' Hawkes said.
“They put a lot of money into the game and it is great to see them get a result.''
He paid tribute to the filly’s speed but is loath to make any comparisons between the family’s two Slipper winners.
“She’s such a professional, she was asleep in the stalls and two-year-olds don’t do that,’’ he said.
“Her gate speed is unbelievable and that’s her attribute. They are all individuals and we just take them as they come.’’
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Wayne Hawkes, who shared an emotional moment with brother Michael shortly after the win, said it was Avdulla’s ride that proved the difference between winning and losing.
And with a $2m first prizemoney cheque up for grabs that gap is a large one and one mistake can be costly.
“She drew the outside barrier and for Brenton to do what he did, he summed it up very well, the greatest shot if you haven’t seen it is the overhead shot, it was amazing,’’ Wayne Hawkes said.
“To see how she jumped so clean and so easy, she just put two lengths on them straight away.
“He didn’t roar across, he just took his time, it was a winning ride.”
Estijaab had a small margin to spare over Oohood, who stamped herself the best maiden in Australia, while Sunlight finished a brave third leaving Tony McEvoy left to lament what might have been.
Oohood ran the fastest last 200m, according to Punters Intel, of 11.72 compared to Estijaab's 12.03.
“She just got a spot back further than we wanted. She tried very hard and just wasn’t good enough on the day,’’ McEvoy said.
“Oohood was super, and I think that confirmed how well she has been running without luck in Melbourne and she was fantastic.
“If she pulls up well we will go to the Sires’ and Sunlight will go for a break. She’s done an amazing job, she presented and ran her heart out for us.’’