Hawkes Racing colt fulfils first-up Mission

Mars Mission is still a work in progress, but Michael Hawkes is hoping an Australia Day win at Warwick Farm is just the starting point for the well-bred colt. 

The three-year-old justified his $1.85 favouritism when he returned with a stylish victory in the XXXX Plate (1100m) on Wednesday, his class shining through despite his greenness. 

Jockey Tommy Berry had to stop and straighten Mars Mission a couple of times in the run home, but he still won with something in hand, defeating Baranof ($6) by three-quarters of a length with Diamond Blush ($21) third.  

An $800,000 yearling purchase whose only other appearance yielded a placing at Sandown in August, Mars Mission has been brought along slowly by his trainers and Michael Hawkes believes the horse is just beginning to tap into his talent. 

“He has been a nice colt on the improve and he’s got a lot bigger fish to fry down the track,” Hawkes said. “But it’s all about a starting point. We’ve started today and he will keep improving. 

“The best part I loved was the last 50 where he got to the front and just wanted to edge away and did it pretty easily. We’ve taken our time with him. He has only had one start [before Wednesday], he’s still learning his race craft. But it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.” 

Berry was happy to sit wide on Mars Mission and let the colt get into a rhythm before launching his challenge, saying he rode him like he was the best horse in the race. 

“He has always shown us a lot at home,” Berry said. “I thought he had a bit of class on this field today, so even though we were trapped wide, it’s only one turn here at Warwick Farm. So I just kept him balanced and he picked them up quite well.” 

Mars Mission is part-owned by respected horseman Alan Bell, who has enjoyed significant success with the likes of Grand Armee, Schillaci and Mars Mission’s sire Deep Field.