Hawks Bay lifts to win second Darwin Cup
06 Aug 2012 | The fighting qualities of the Neil Dyer-trained galloper were on show for all to see in Monday's $180,000 Darwin Cup (2000m) where the 20,000 plus crowd at Fannie Bay racecourse witnessed an enthralling finish.
Asked to carry 64.5kg and under an injury cloud following his last start flop in the Metric Mile, Hawks Bay's Darwin Cup defence looked in big trouble when the seven-year-old was headed on the outside by race favourite Bolton with 100m to go.
With Bolton having edged narrowly in front, the 2011 Darwin Cup winner despite having so much against him rose to the challenge ahead and fought back, eventually being declared the winner in a head bobbing photo.
The announcement of Hawks Bay's second Darwin Cup victory after long deliberation in the judges box was met with huge cheers from the crowd with the popular gelding breaking his own weight carrying record [62kg] achieved during the 2011 renewal.
An emotional trainer Neil Dyer was full of praise for both horse and jockey Steven Arnold after the heart stopping finish.
“I thought he was gallant and on the line I thought he had just gotten beat,” Dyer said.
“I wouldn't have been disappointed anyway because the horse jut tried his guts out.
“It was a fantastic ride by Steven and he knew he couldn't use him until he really had to. By having a fantastic jockey on like that we've just been able to just get there.”
Following an ideal run in transit courtesy of Steven Arnold, the pair made their move just prior to turning with the top jockey steering the gelding out wide around tiring leaders.
Hawks Bay hit the front at the top of the straight although began to tire under his big weight over the concluding stages.
Race favourite Bolton edged ahead in sight of the post however the gallant Hawks Bay lifted himself off the canvas and stuck his head out at the right time for an emphatic win.
“It is a huge thrill,” jockey Steven Arnold said.
“He has been such a great horse for Neil [Dyer] and the team. He was all courage today.
“We got into a pretty good spot and he travelled good midrace. Nothing was taking him into it so I had to come out wide and roll with a big weight.
“I knew I would be vulnerable 100m out but when that other thing came up to him he just fought his heart out.
“I thought the other horse had a bit more momentum but he got the bob and I'm pretty thrilled.”
Hawks Bay's latest win was arguably his most memorable despite the son of Black Hawk winning the same event 12 months ago by an impressive four length margin.
Questions were raised over the geldings fitness after his prior run in the Metric Mile with jockey Steven Arnold suggesting the Dyer stable star may have been sore in a leg following the run.
“This is very satisfying because we've had problems,” Dyer said.
“We've been working on him until the last minute to try and get him here. When you do all that and it comes off, it is very satisfying.”
With 14 wins and 11 minor placings to his name from 52 career starts, Hawks Bay has now accumulated well in excess of $800,000 in prizemoney.
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