A rapid early pace blew the field apart in the $1m, The Gong (1600m) at Kembla Grange on Saturday with the Hawkes’ trained Archedemus under Jay Ford stalking the early leader Positive Peace and being too strong for Dawn Passage for the length of the main straight.
From the barriers Positive Peace and apprentice Tom Sherry went out from barrier ten and Ford had Archedemus from barrier 13 right behind. These two sped off into the distance leaving the field 4L adrift at the 800m. Tim Clark had the $4.70 tote favourite Dawn Passage in fourth.
Entering the main straight many in the field were already in trouble. Positive Peace put the flag up as well and it was then left to Archedemus, with 52.5kg, to withstand the challenge from Dawn Passage with 56.5kg.
As the sectionals ticked by Dawn Passage looked to have almost gained the advantage, but inside on the rails Archedemus, with 4kg less, was not for passing and Ford strongly urged the seven-year-old gelding to maintain the fight.
At the line they had a neck margin over Dawn Passage (Dawn Approach) with 1 1/2L to Think It Over (So You Think) (56.5kg) and Brenton Avdulla in third. Reloaded was fourth.
Archedemus and Jay Ford inside of Dawn Passage and Tim Clark, picture Sportpix.com.au
The time was 1.35.27 on the Good 4 track with the final 600m in a quick 33.84. Archedemus caught the market out paying $18.00 on fixed odds and $18.90 on the tote.
Archedemus has shifted around after being trained out of Kembla Grange by Gwenda Markwell before a stint with Joe Pride at Warwick Farm and then in the middle of the year to the Hawkes’ stable at Rosehill
“His run first up in Melbourne was really good and he came back from Melbourne to Sydney. His run was okay and probably the wet track affected him a lot. He just took off from there, his run last start at Hawkesbury was really good and probably just found wanting in the last little bit with the other horse just having the drop on him, ," said Michael Hawkes.
“With no weight on his back I have to give Jay credit. The plan was to go forward and I said to Jay I hope he jumps and roll forward and let him do the rest. You have to go that half a length quicker than slower to get his mental attitude right.
“Half way I was worried that they were going a bit too quick, but it was a very tenacious and gutsy effort, a credit to Jay and the horse, they have come together on the right day, " he said.
Archedemus, by Lope de Vega out of the Peintre Celebre mare Carolyn’s Star, was second in the listed Ladies Day Cup over 1600m at Hawkesbury on November 11th. He won the 2019 Group 3 Hawkesbury Cup over the same distance.
Racing under the Superhorse ownership Saturday’s win was his eighth from 21 starts and the rich stake took his earnings from $458,730 to $1,038,730.
Jay Ford and Michael Hawkes discuss the win, picture Sportpix.com.au