Veteran gelding Niwot has forced his way into the Melbourne Cup with victory in Saturday’s Lexus Stakes at Flemington.
It is the second year running the Hawkes’ team of John and his sons Michael and Wayne have produced the winner of the 2500m Lexus, with Maluckyday going on to run second to Americain in last year’s Melbourne Cup.
Ridden by Dean Yendall, Niwot ($9) produced a sustained sprint down the straight to beat Macedonian ($10) by three lengths with Anudjawun another 2-1/4 lengths away third.
It will be the first ride in the Cup for Yendall who rode the most winners in Australia last season, but with limited opportunities in city races.
“”He (Niwot) is in with a chance and today is probably as good as he’s ever gone,” John Hawkes said.
“He shattered the bones in the back of his knee and had more than a year off.
“The vets said he would never race again but he’s back and it’s great to see him in the Cup.
“He’s got a light weight so anything could happen.”
Chief handicapper Greg Carpenter decided against giving Niwot a penalty for his win and he will carry 51kg on Tuesday.
“He was impressive but looking at the horses behind him, I’m happy with the weight he’s got,” he said.
Yendall, who had missed his first scheduled Cup ride in 2006 when he broke a leg, said Niwot had run the perfect race.
“He just loves this track,” Yendall said.
“He settled tremendously in the run and we lobbed in a nice spot. He switched off nicely and travelled really comfortably throughout. It was a marvellous effort to do what he did today.”
Shewan and Tactic were among withdrawals from Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup on Saturday.