A glowing record at the distance has convinced trainer Chris Waller that Hawk Island can spearhead his three-pronged assault on Saturday’s Hill Stakes.
Hawk Island has had 11 starts over 2000 metres for seven wins and two placings, including a third in the Group One Ranvet Stakes in March.
“The distance will suit him. His record over 2000 metres is brilliant, he’s third-up and there’s no reason why he can’t fight out the finish,” Waller said.
Hawk Island resumed with a fast-finishing sixth to Pinwheel over an unsuitable 1400m at Warwick Farm on August 20 before failing to beat a runner home in the Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) won by Trusting.
Waller has been frank throughout the seven-year-old’s preparation maintaining he didn’t expect the stayer to step up to the plate until he got to his pet trip in Saturday’s Hill Stakes at Rosehill.
Hawk Island finished fourth to subsequent Caulfield Cup winner Descarado in the corresponding race last year, although that was towards the end of a long campaign and he will be third-up on Saturday.
He will be joined by stablemates Stand To Gain and 2010 Group Two Goodwood Cup winner Illustrious Blue who will be having just his second start for Waller.
“I’m really happy with him and the 2000 (metres) will give us a clearer picture but I think he is spot-on for the Metropolitan … I really do,” Waller said of Illustrious Blue.
“He looks bright in himself. We don’t do a lot of galloping with him so this race will certainly bring him on.”
Sydney Cup winner Stand To Gain has never won over less than 2400 metres and Waller doesn’t expect that to change this weekend.
“If he can run midfield I’ll be more than happy,” Waller said.
“With him you have to wait until he gets to 2400 (metres) to get a clearer picture. Even 2600 (metres) plus because he is a real stayer.”