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Andrew Hawkins selects his 15 horses to watch this spring

August 2, 2011

As hinted in yesterday’s brief review of the 2011/2012 season, Just Horse Racing’s Andrew Hawkins has selected his horses to follow this spring.

Unable to limit it to 10, Hawkins gives his 15 horses to watch this spring below.

Do you agree or disagree with Andrew’s selections? What are your horses to follow this spring? Email us at

With a wide range of horses selected – sprinters, stayers, colts, fillies, geldings, horses, mares – it is a list which will prove interesting reading come the end of the spring.

In no particular order, here are his 15 horses to follow this spring:

5yo gelding
Zabeel x Tall Story (Carnegie)
Trainer: Robert Hickmott (Mt Macedon)

A winner of five from eight starts, he’s yet to finish unplaced. He has made his way through the grades quickly, finishing third at his most recent start on Golden Slipper Day. His run that day demonstrated his potential, as the turn of foot he showed was incredible. He looked like folding up on the turn, but he made a heap of ground to get into third (and he arguably should have won). The winner of that race, Syreon, ran fourth in the Doncaster Mile and third in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Could he provide Zabeel with a fourth Melbourne Cup, after Might and Power, Jezabeel and Efficient?

5yo mare
Bel Esprit x Helsinge (
Desert Sun)
Trainer: Peter Moody (Caulfield)

Is there much more to say? I was considering not including her, as it was so obvious anyway, but she really is a drawcard for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. I wouldn’t be surprised if the last day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival goes close to matching attendance figures for Derby Day and Cup Day, such is her popularity. Let’s just hope she remains unbeaten!

7yo gelding
Don Eduardo x Beautiful Sea (Grosvenor)
Trainer: Jeff Lynds (Palmerston North)

It wouldn’t be an Andrew Hawkins list without the token Kiwi. Last year, I was on the bandwagon of the Jeff Lynds-trained Wall Street. This year, I’ve switched focus to stablemate Booming. He’s now a seven year old, but he has improved with age. He’s only had the 24 starts and I think we’ll see the best of him this spring. Showed glimpses of his talent in the autumn of 2010, when he ran third in the Auckland Cup behind Zavite and third in the JRA Plate behind Herculian Prince. Both are subsequent Group 1 winners. He had a fairly light program over the summer this year, graduating to weight for age class with a win in the Group 1 Zabeel Classic over 2000m. He also won the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m), under handicap conditions. Trainer Lynds believes he’s better over further, and I tend to agree. I think class got him home in those Group 1 races, but I can’t wait to see him in both the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup. I reckon those races will suit him ideally!

6yo gelding
Medecis x New York (Danzero)
Trainer: Mark Kavanagh (Flemington)

Came to Australia with indifferent form, but what he has showed in two Australian starts to date makes me believe he is perfectly suited to Australian conditions. Who knows, he may even be a Group 1 horse here? He only just won his first race over 1600m (a race won previously by another successful import, Speed Gifted), but he was super impressive two weeks later over 2000m. That day, he won by five lengths from Gold In Dubai. Yep, the Ipswich Cup winner and Caloundra Cup/Grafton Cup placegetter was no match for December Draw. The turn of foot and racing style he showed that day makes me believe he’d be the perfect Caulfield Cup contender. He’s my top selection at this stage. And also, it is interesting to note that owner Richard Pegum is either very lucky or a very good judge of horseflesh – most likely the latter. He also has the likes of My Kingdom of Fife representing him this spring.

3yo colt
Starcraft x Chickens (Danehill)
Trainer: Bart Cummings (Randwick)

Given my love for So You Think, how could I not include this similarly named galloper? Originally named Ingham, a very smart name if you ask me, it was changed at the request of the Ingham family. He was very impressive on debut, got the job done at his second start and was slightly disappointing in the AJC Sires Produce Stakes. That said, he has always looked like he would improve as a three year old. I think he could be a good Caulfield Guineas horse, maybe even a Cox Plate! Hey, it wouldn’t be So You Think, but it would be close! I’d be disappointed if he wasn’t a player in some of those races.

8yo gelding
Zabeel x Refused The Dance (Defensive Play)
Trainer: Robert Hickmott (Mt Macedon)

The chances that one time Melbourne Cup and Victoria Derby winner Efficient will be as effective as he once was is…well, rather minute. But one can still hope. Like his stablemate Zipping, he’s grown on me through time. It’s pretty incredible that the only time he’s been beaten at 2000m or further was in the Cox Plate in 2007. And every time he’s raced at 2400m and beyond – which is only two starts – he’s produced two wins that were out of this world. If they can keep him sound, which is a big if, it could be one of the biggest and best moments in racing. And don’t doubt the Lloyd Williams operation – they managed to bring Gallic back from the brink of retirement, only for him to have a foot abscess on the morning of the Melbourne Cup. Hopefully, they have better luck with Efficient.

5yo gelding
Dansili x Prophecy (Warning)
Trainer: Chris Waller (Rosehill)

Hard not to be impressed by his latest effort, a win in the Winter Championship at Rosehill. He needs a bit of give in the ground, but when he gets it he is electric. Chris Waller says he doesn’t know if he is a miler who sprinted well fresh or a middle distance horse. Personally, I hope to see him up over 2000m. I reckon, with the seemingly thin ranks amongst our 2000m horses, he could emerge as a good chance in some of those races. He is one serious galloper.

4yo horse
Galileo x Debra’s Joy (Danehill)
Trainer: Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes (Rosehill)

All eyes will be on the stablemate Maluckyday, but I will be very interested to see how this galloper emerges throughout the spring. Beaten by a nose in a Hawkesbury maiden in March, which wouldn’t suggest much. However, it is the form out of his second run which looks promising. He finished fourth. Somepin Anypin disappointed at his next run, but Fast Clip went on to Tulloch Stakes success while Startsmeup was unlucky to lose in a photo behind Bullbars at his next start in Melbourne. I’m convinced, if they get him over ground, he could be a nice horse. Maybe even a race like the Coongy Handicap could be a nice race for him.

3yo filly
Encosta De Lago x Sovereign Duchess (Last Tycoon)
Trainer: Anthony Cummings (Randwick)

Still a maiden, but another bred to improve with age. She produced a phenomenal run after bombing the start by six lengths when she ran home hard to just miss at Canterbury in February. Her run in the Keith Mackay Quality behind Streama was also outstanding, while the step from 1200m to 1600m for the Champagne Stakes was beyond her. I think she could be the ideal Thousand Guineas/Crown Oaks filly with improvement.

5yo horse
Danehill Dancer x Streetcar (In The Wings)
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor (Newmarket)

Anyone who was on Twitter last Thursday night will know that I believe this horse has the ideal profile for the Melbourne Cup. The Goodwood Cup was his first try over 3200m, he stayed it well but also showed a turn of foot, he has form over shorter, he is used to the bustling fields usually found in handicaps. It all fits! It may be weird to include an international in my horses to follow, as he is likely to come for the Melbourne Cup only – although, if he runs in the Ebor in two and a half weeks time, he may come for the Caulfield Cup. I’m just hoping he is among nominations tomorrow for the Caulfield Cup. I seriously believe that he is the right type for Melbourne.

4yo mare
Zabeel x I’m In Heaven (Volksraad)
Trainer: Peter Moody (Caulfield)

This was a very interesting judgement to make. I only wanted one staying mare in the mix, and I can’t really say my choice was limited. I could easily have chosen the brilliant Shamrocker, who won the AJC Derby and Australian Guineas. I could have gone for the Queensland Oaks winner Scarlett Lady. I could have chosen star Kiwi mare King’s Rose. Or maybe one of the major Oaks winners – Brazilian Pulse or Absolutely. In the end, I went with Lights of Heaven. I chose her for a number of reasons. Firstly, she’s only had four starts, so she’s hardly been bottomed out – which happens to a lot of these fillies. She’s unbeaten, so she knows how to win. The form has stacked up, through Absolutely. And most importantly, she’s bred to get better with age. I’d be disappointed if she didn’t show something!

5yo gelding
Danehill Dancer x En Garde (Irish River)
Trainer: David Hayes (Euroa)

He ran last in two appearances in the autumn, so what on earth has seen me include this horse in my 15 to follow? He’s very talented, but he sounded like a very headstrong colt. He’s now been gelded. As Mick Sharkie pointed out recently, the damage may already have been done mentally, but I’m taking the gamble that he’s on the track to success. His recent trial at Tatura was promising enough. David Hayes, despite having his ups and downs recently, has had great success with imports before it became the latest fad, so you’d think one of his four – Budai, Laristan, Rebel Soldier or Tactic – will go well. It’s just a matter of picking the right one. I’ll go with Rebel Soldier. Probably not a betting proposition until he gets up to 2000m, but once he does, I think you’ll see the best of him.

3yo filly
Flying Spur x Star Satire (Volksraad)
Trainer: Clarry Conners (Warwick Farm)

Speedy filly who was my Golden Slipper tip from October through to April. Despite the fact she didn’t win, she gave me a great thrill. Once again, it is taking the chance as to whether she’s gone on with the job. I’m hoping she has. She’ll race exclusively in Melbourne, where there are plenty of fillies races for her. I reckon she can make a sweep of those fillies races!

3yo colt
Elusive Quality x Watchful (Danehill)
Trainer: Peter Snowden (Warwick Farm)

One of the best juveniles of the modern era, right up there with Dance Hero in my eyes. Many two year olds don’t go on, but I have no reason to doubt Sepoy will. He was just that much better than his rivals. He was only beaten once, by Smart Missile, and I don’t know if he will actually meet Smart Missile this campaign. There aren’t many sprinters who will meet him in the early spring, in races like the Danehill Stakes and Manikato Stakes. The dearth of opposition may make him look better than he is, but perhaps he is a superstar. Definitely must follow him, especially in the early three year old sprint races!

3yo gelding
Savabeel x Ambitious (Last Tycoon)
Trainer: Anthony Cummings (Randwick)

I know this may seem like an odd selection, given he ran fifth at $26 on the weekend. But there is promise there. He ran second to the very promising Startreusse on debut, then struck all sorts of trouble when seventh to Mahisara up in Queensland in a Listed race. Was also unlucky on Saturday. Anthony Cummings has had success getting horses ready for the Spring Champion before – he’s had winners Teranaba and Hotel Grand, as well as second placegetter Outback Prince. I truly think this horse could end up being the ideal Spring Champion/Victoria Derby horse. Watch him.

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