By Ray Hickson
It’s not normal practice for the Hawkes stable to hype up a debut winner but there’s a hint of excitement around Exceedance ahead of Saturday’s Rosehill assignment.
The youngster produced a memorable first-up win at Wyong earlier this month and it moved co-trainer Michael Hawkes to suggest if he backs that up in what is shaping as a strong two-year-old race he could be carnival material.
“He’s an exciting horse going forward,’’ Hawkes said on Sky Sports Radio on Tuesday.
“He’s only had the one start, sometimes people get carried away on one run but he did put in a massive effort and it was a great win.
“If he can do the same thing as he did first-up then we’ll start thinking we might have something a bit special.’’
The 1100m two-year-old event on Saturday is will be one of the races of the day with promising youngsters like Splintex, Kordia, Spaceboy, King’s Champ, Sun Patch and Rotator among the nominations.
Hawkes said it wasn’t the original plan for Exceedance to step out at Wyong on May 16 but a change to the program forced their hand in order to get the colt up and running.
“I didn’t want him running at Wyong, I wanted to run in town,’’ he said.
“We had to go to Wyong and I said to Tommy Berry before the run that it’s not his track, it doesn’t matter where you are in the run, to have the horse comfortable which is the general rule of our stable, and just let him finish it off.
“I just wanted to come away with a bit of wow factor, going 'wow that was a good run'.’’
It’s safe to say most people saw some wow factor in the win.
After settling second last, Berry brought the colt widest on the turn and he unleashed easily the fastest last 200m of the day (11.38, Punter's Intelligence) and ran 33.91 for his last 600m (the day’s second fastest just 0.01 slower than city performed River Bird).
Hawkes said another impressive win, especially considering he’d prefer Saturday’s race to be 1200m, will likely see Exceedance rested and plans made for him to tackle better company next season.
“It’s 1100m, 1200m would have been nice, I wouldn’t deny that, but 1100m is right up his alley and it’s a bigger track and it’s certainly going to be a plus for him,’’ he said.
“He could have gone to the paddock after his first-up win. He’d done well from that run to now, if he wasn’t right he wouldn’t be running.
“He’s a colt that is going to keep improving. He’s still not there yet. We’ll probably pull the pin and get him ready for the spring or the autumn next year.’’
Exceedance's fast-finishing win at Wyong on May 16
Stablemate Kapajack is expected to contest the 1300m Benchmark 78 on Saturday on the back of his eye-catching first-up second behind Zonk earlier in May.
The gelding, who served notice of his ability beating Mister Songman and Easy Eddie on debut in December, hit the line strongly fresh and Hawkes said he’s improved with the run.
“It was a great run first-up. He jumped okay, got back and really motored home,’’ he said.
“He’s on song, he’s lightly raced and definitely going somewhere.’’
Meanwhile, Doncaster Mile winner Brutal is still in the paddock after his super win during The Championships and Hawkes said he’ll be back in work soon for the spring.
Connections have earmarked the $7.5m The Golden Eagle (1500m) as a target and Hawkes said if the rising four-year-old was set for The Everest he’d be competitive there too.