Headwater has bounced back from a winless spring campaign to show his class in beating older horses first-up in the Kensington Stakes at Flemington.
Setting up a potential shot at some of Melbourne’s top sprint races, Headwater enjoyed a good run in Saturday’s Listed 1000m race before chasing down Bullpit in an encouraging return.
Headwater is bred to be a quality sprinter being by Newmarket Handicap winner Exceed And Excel out of an Oakleigh Plate winner in River Dove.
He won his first two starts in brilliant fashion as a juvenile, including the Silver Slipper, and was a one-time Golden Slipper favourite before eventually finishing fifth in the rich two-year-old race.
The colt didn’t live up to expectations during a four-run spring campaign but is back to his best, according to co-trainer Wayne Hawkes and jockey Dwayne Dunn.
“It wasn’t his go in the spring. He wasn’t quite right,” Hawkes said.
“This time he’s back on song.
“He got a good run today and when he popped out he really pinned his ears back.”
Headwater, a firmer from $7 to $6, defeated Bullpit ($9) by a long head with last year’s winner The Quarterback ($7.50) running into third, another three-quarters of a length away.
The victory came 20 minutes before his Hawkes Racing-trained stablemate Our Boy Malachi dominated the Group Two Expressway Stakes in Sydney.
He was also the Hawkes Racing team’s second Flemington winner after Onerous won the Peter Heath Handicap.
Dunn is hoping the victory is a confidence-builder for Headwater going to better races.
“We thought that if he brought his A-game today he would be beating these horses,” Dunn said.
“He’s much better than that.
“He was just in the wilderness and doing things wrong last preparation, over-racing and not finishing his races off.
“He’d shown us that he was relaxed at home but we needed to see it at the races.”
Trainer Mathew Ellerton is hoping to run three-year-old filly Heatherly in the Oakleigh Plate after her short-half head win over Almighty Girl in the Andrew Guy Handicap (1100m).
“She’ll improve off what she did today,” Ellerton said.