By Ray Hickson
When it comes to star four-year-old Brutal, co-trainer Michael Hawkes has confidence in two things – the horse’s ability and the ability of jockey Tommy Berry to give him his best possible chance.
Although the Brutal camp had to deal with the blow of drawing the outside barrier in the $7.5m Iron Jack Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill on Saturday, Hawkes is preferring to back the horse’s class.
And the fact the horse has been aimed squarely at the race.
“This is his grand final, it’s what we’ve set him for all along, and we can’t have him any better,’’ Hawkes said.
“I think third-up is going to be the optimum for him. I don’t think we have seen the best of him.
“We are going in confident, the horse is great and we can only rely on Tommy to get the job done on top.’’
There’s been plenty of dissection of the Golden Eagle barrier draw and what it means but as far as form goes Brutal has plenty of it when it comes to overcoming adversity.
Case in point is the well documented Doncaster Mile win back in April where he jumped from 18 at Randwick and took home Sydney’s signature mile at his seventh start.
Hawkes said it’s Berry’s job to navigate and sees enough positives himself in drawing the outside.
“Once the barriers open it’s up to Tommy to decide in the next 50m on where he needs to be,’’ he said.
“I know Tommy has stated he’s probably better drawn out there but here at Rosehill we have a nice long straight down the back from the 1500m.
“I think he will be in a nice position somewhere, there might be a bit of scrimmaging, as long as we are in a nice rhythm and out of trouble we’ll be happy.’’
As far as Brutal’s two runs into the Golden Eagle are concerned, where he’s $5 equal second elect with TAB, Hawkes said the plan has always been to arrive at the race third-up and to do that with a Premiere Stakes win and close third in the Sydney Stakes, both over 1200m, is a good base.
“His first run was outstanding, he went really good, second-up at 1200m was probably not his ideal distance,’’ he said.
“He still fought well, it was a great run and he was probably looking for further.
“We felt on the day he probably should have stayed to the inside and followed Home Of The Brave but Tommy made the decision to push out and come wide.
“Had he followed Home Of The Brave he peels off his back and it‘s probably a different result. His run was still top shelf.’’
The future for Brutal beyond Saturday is the spelling paddock and what will likely be a final campaign in the autumn before he heads to stud – though Hawkes does feel his best days on the track are still ahead.
Handy four-year-old Kapajack puts his unbeaten Rosehill record on the line in the $1m Redzel Stakes (1300m) on Saturday and you get the sense the Hawkes stable believe he can run a cheeky race.
Kapajack is the lowest rated horse in the race, and an outsider at $26, but he clocked a sharp 32.92 for his last 600m (Punter’s Intelligence) when he ran seventh in the Silver Eagle on October 12.
“When we looked at this race the bonuses weren’t on offer for the Everest and Sydney Stakes and that’s lured those horses,’’ Hawkes said.
Brutal runs third in the Sydney Stakes on October 19
“He’s a nice chance, he worked nicely this morning and his first-up run was really good. He’s a fresh horse on the scene, a lot of the horses above him have had a lot of hard racing but in saying that there are Group 1 winners.
“As far as the horse goes, he’s perfect and it’s the right race, right distance, second-up and I think he will run really well.’’
Hawkes is somewhat bullish that Outrageous can atone for a luckless first-up third placing in the Wisdom Homes Handicap (1300m) to round out Golden Eagle day.
The gelding, $2.80 favourite, had a wide run when beaten less than half a length by Signore Fox and Reelem In Ruby at Randwick and Hawkes said he’s all upside.
“He’s a horse that’s always been thereabouts, we are trying to get back on track and a bit of confidence,’’ he said.
“He probably should have won first-up he just had a horrid run and couldn’t get in.
“He was probably stiff not to win the Sires or Champagne and when you have colts it goes one way or another, we turned him into a racehorse and he’s starting to come of age.’’