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About this time last year imported stayer Hawk Island was just going through the motions in Sydney racing.

The gelding had hit “a flat spot” with four unplaced runs before striking winning form on wet tracks during the winter and has never looked backed since.

Hawk Island is now set to start one of the favourites in Saturday’s Sydney Cup (3200m) at Randwick, one of four Group One races which bring the Sydney Carnival to a close.

Trainer Chris Waller rates him the best of his three Sydney Cup hopefuls.

“This time last year he was just going through the motions and he’s just got confidence and continued to improve,” Waller said.

“He’s just flying at the moment and in career-best form. He’s a confident horse and he handles any track conditions so there is not too many worries with him.”

Since winning over 2000m on a heavy track at Randwick in June last year, Hawk Island has won another six races including Listed victories in the Wyong Cup (2100m), Parramatta Cup (2000m) and last week’s JRA Plate (2000m).

He has also notched a Group One weight-for-age placing in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and finished fourth in the Group One BMW (2400m).

The six-year-old son of Hawk Wing topped off his Sydney Cup preparations with an impressive JRA Plate win carrying 61kg on a heavy track last Saturday.

“I wanted to run him last week just to take the edge off him,” Waller said.

“It would have done that and I just hope it hasn’t flattened him too much. He’s come through it very well, he’s a tough horse and he’s in the race with a great chance.”

Waller has nine runners entered across the four Group Ones including Strike One and Stand To Gain who join Hawk Island in the Sydney Cup.

However, Stand To Gain is the emergency and needs a scratching if he’s to gain a start.

“(Hawk Island) is the pick of my runners simply because of form,” Waller said.

“Stand To Gain needs to get a scratching to get into the field. He’ll get the distance and he’ll appreciate a wet track but he’s still got to go there.

“Strike One has won over two miles (3200m) but he’s out of form.

“We’re trying to find a way to get him back into form and I’m hoping the two miles might do that.”

C’est La Guerre heads the Sydney Cup market at $6 with TAB Sportsbet ahead of Once Were Wild and Mourayan at $7 with Hawk Island next at $8.


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