Hawkbill To Swoop On More G1 Targets
A re-invigorated Godolphin maintained its impressive strike-rate in Europe's highest profile races when Hawkbill outgunned a top class field in Saturday's G1 Coral Eclipse at Sandown Park (UK), serving notice that he is a colt to be reckoned with for the remainder of the season.
More than two decades after Halling gave Godolphin the first of five victories in the mile-and-a-quarter clash of the generations, three-year-old Hawkbill came of age to record his sixth consecutive win and stamp himself a major contender for all G1 middle-distance races in Europe.
But John Ferguson, Godolphin's chief executive and racing manager, said there will be no rush to nominate an immediate target. "These are exciting times, but His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the team will discuss the options, and there are plenty of them," Ferguson said.
Ascot's G1 King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, as well as the G1 Juddmonte International at York, plus the Irish and English versions of the G1 Champion Stakes, are all races under serious consideration for the son of Kitten's Joy.
"The ground at Sandown had become genuinely soft, but I feel he will be even more comfortable on top of the ground," Ferguson said. "Don't forget we brought him home from Chantilly (in early June) because the ground was so bad. He would probably have won the French Derby," he added.
On Saturday, Hawkbill was tenacious under Godolphin jockey William Buick as he fought to repel The Gurkha in the closing stages, providing clear proof that trainer Charlie Appleby was spot on when he said "he has grown up since (winning the G3 Tercentenary Stakes at) Royal Ascot."
The decision to supplement a horse for a G1 feature brings with it certain pressure on those who have stepped forward with the suggestion. It is not so much the money involved as the professional reputation that is placed on the line.
In this case, credit to Appleby and Team Godolphin for recognising the signs that Hawkbill was transforming from a one-time improving handicapper to G1 'giant,' a phenomenon not unknown during the summer months for one of his age.
An improving three-year-old is the most feared card in the pack whenever the race programme alternatives are shuffled by connections of horses in the G1 bracket.
Hawkbill's Coral-Eclipse win maintained the momentum for Godolphin, who notched four winners at Royal Ascot (a tally to which Hawkbill notably contributed) and then followed up with a famous victory with Antiquarium in the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle (UK).
Also adding to the global stable's success was the Appleby-trained Endless Time, who made a sparkling seasonal debut by taking the G2 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock Park. In a matter of hours on Saturday, Godolphin had lifted the two major races in Britain.
"We were also delighted with Endless Time's win at Haydock, and she will now go for the G1 Yorkshire Oaks," Ferguson said.