Eight-year-old Dao Dao could be the blow-out horse for punters when he tries to defy convention to score a milestone victory in the Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes at Caulfield.
Despite his advancing years, Dao Dao is back for another spring assault with Team Hawkes and resumes in Saturday’s 1400-metre Group One feature which has been a graveyard for horses first-up.
However if ever a horse deserved to win a Group One race it is the son of Shinko Forest.
Trainer Wayne Hawkes said he was “probably the forgotten horse” and one of the few genuine Group One performers in the Rupert Clarke.
The former Hong Kong galloper has won seven of his 27 starts and $1.4 million but is overdue for success with his last win being the Listed Royal Parma Stakes at Rosehill in April 2009.
Notably that race was the biggest win of his career which has been riddled with heartbreaking moments for his connections in big races.
So many times he has gone close with five of his 11 career minor placings being in Group One races and three in Group Two races.
Australian Racehorse of the Year Typhoon Tracy beat him the 2010 Futurity Stakes while his other Group One seconds included last year’s George Ryder Stakes and Emirates Stakes when beaten in a photo-finish.
He was also third in this year’s Futurity Stakes and the 2009 Champions Mile in Hong Kong.
TAB Sportsbet quote Dao Dao at $21 for the Rupert Clarke which hasn’t been won by a horse going first-up into it in the last 25 runnings.
Had he drawn better than gate 14, Team Hawkes may have been more confident but their hopes are that he will go back and try to make a winning run.
“He is probably the forgotten horse in the race and has a good fresh record but he has drawn a bit ordinary,” Wayne Hawkes said.
“I have never liked bad barriers but the horse is fit and well.”
He dismissed his last two runs in the Doncaster Mile and Hollindale Stakes on wet tracks which he does not handle, but will get conditions to suit with firm going predicted for Saturday.
Hawkes said the Group One Emirates Stakes (1600m) was again his primary spring goal.
“If he is hitting the line nice and strong on Saturday we will be happy,” Hawkes said.
Boom colt Smart Missile, who will be ridden by Hong Kong-based Australian Brett Prebble replacing the injured Glen Boss, has drifted from his opening quote of $3 with TAB Sportsbet to $3.50 but retains favouritism despite his horror draw (17 of 17).
Woorim, third last year to Response, has been solidly supported from $8.50 to $4.60 with Pinwheel at $9, Blackie at $11 and Toorak Toff and Dreamaway both at $13.
Hong Kong-based Australian John Moore will saddle up Silver Grecian for his first Australian start.
Darren Beadman returns from Hong Kong to ride the $31 chance as well as stablemate, Cups prospect Mighty High ($4.40 fav) in the Sportingbet Hcp (1700m).