Archedemus snapped an 18-month winless streak and capped a hugely successful spring carnival for Team Hawkes at Kembla Grange on Saturday.
There was no fluke about the win of Archedemus in the $1 million The Gong (1600m), either.
After Archedemus went forward to help establish the frenetic early tempo, he forced the issue by taking on leader Positive Peace before the home turn, then was challenged and headed by favourite Dawn Passage only to fight back to win.
Trainer Michael Hawkes said consideration would be given to aiming Archedemus at the Group 2 $250,000 Villiers Stakes (1600m) at Royal Randwick on December 12 now the seven-year-old gelding had rediscovered his winning groove.
“The Villiers is probably the option with him but it will depend on how he pulls up,’’ Hawkes said.
“We don’t make decisions on race day and The Gong has always been the plan for him.
“He might be looking for a spell now so we will just see how he is over the next few days.
“Although he is a seven-year-old, he has turned the corner and we have a lot to look forward to with him in the autumn.’’
The Gong looked an even contest on paper and that’s how it turned out with Archedemus ($18) rallying magnificently under Jay Ford to win by a short neck from Dawn Passage ($5) with Think It Over ($41) a further one-and-a-half lengths away third.
Adding further merit to Archedemus’s effort, Positive Peace dropped out of the speed battle from the turn and ran 15th, beating only Olmedo to the line.
Jay Ford returns to scale after winning The Gong aboard Archedemus. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Ford said Archedemus was in “quite a mood” and got very stirred up behind the barriers but the gelding had his mind on the job during the race.
“The plan was to lead but when Positive Peace cleared out we just sat off,’’ Ford said.
“I thought we went reasonably controlled and that’s why I turned it up from the 700m. I thought his best chance was if we could get a break on the field.
“He maintained his gallop all the way and was brave when Dawn Passage challenged him.
“To be fair, I thought Dawn Passage had my measure so I think he’s rallied pretty strongly. A much-deserved win for the horse.’’
Archedemus, who was formerly trained at Kembla Grange, scored the eighth win – and his first since May last year – at his 21st start, lifting his prizemoney over the $1m barrier.
His win in The Gong capped a memorable spring carnival for Team Hawkes that included the dual Group 1 wins of Ole Kirk in the Golden Rose and Caulfield Guineas, plus the big-race wins of North Pacific, Doubtland, Dirty Work and Written Beauty.
Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his father, John, and brother Wayne, said he received a phone call from owner Ross Williams asking if they would take over the training of Angel Of Truth and Archedemus.
“It was something we decided to do and try to get both horses back to form,’’ Hawkes said.
“Angel Of Truth nearly won a Metrop (Group 1 The Metropolitan) and this bloke, well now he’s won The Gong so he is well and truly back to form.’’
Hawkes said Archedemus has raced well in three starts without winning this spring and the stable was confident the gelding would be very competitive in The Gong.
“His run last start at Hawkesbury was really good, he was just found wanting the last little bit, the other horse had the drop on him but he got going late again after the line,’’ Hawkes said.
“He had no weight on his back and I’ve got to give Jay credit. The plan was to go forward. I just said to Jay let him roll forward and let him do the rest.
“He is the kind of horse where you’ve got to go that half a length quicker than slower and just try and get his mental attitude right.
“Probably halfway out I was worried they were going a little bit too quick. It was a very tenacious and gutsy effort and all credit to Jay and the horse, they’ve definitely come together on the right day.”
The Hawkes stable also saddled up Rock ($9) but he didn’t run on as expected and ran only ninth.
“Rock has been up a long time and I think he has come to the end of his campaign,’’ Hawkes said.
Dawn Passage had the run of the race tucked in behind the leaders and jockey Tim Clark thought he was on the winner coming into the straight.
“We got past Archedemus but he has just out-toughed us,’’ Clark said.
“It’s hard to say Dawn Passage hasn’t run a strong mile, he wasn’t beaten far and has gone super.’
Originally published asArchedemus ends drought in Kembla homecoming
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