Exceedance winning the San Domenico Stakes (Image: Bradley Photos)

Exceedance primed to succeed

His most recent jump out had some scratching their heads and history does him no favours either, but there is no lack of stable confidence about Exceedance performing to his high rating in Saturday's Newmarket Handicap at Flemington.

At times on Friday morning, co-trainer Wayne Hawkes tried to temper expectations about Exceedance making a winning return in the famous open sprint to follow on from his Coolmore Stud Stakes heroics last spring, but ultimately his faith in the colt is unwavering.

"We know what he does over the 1200 metres at Flemington - everyone saw that on Derby Day," Hawkes said.

"Pretty much every time he's had every race start in his career, I think he's been the fastest last 600 (metres) of every horse in every field he's ever raced in, so you know he's the right horse."

Only once has the Newmarket been won by a horse racing first-up as the colt must this Saturday, so Hawkes said there is a real potential that he could be beaten.

"But it's not the end of the world because, what everyone has to remember, he is a three-year-old taking on the older horses and he's never done that before," he said.

"It's not a must-win or has-to-win because he can still run credible and we'll still be very excited because he's a three-year-old.

"Some people were a bit iffy about his jumpout, but I thought he went pretty good. He wasn't out there to have a gut-buster.

"He's a high-quality colt and he will race less than more this campaign. We're not going to see him a lot and hopefully we can keep his record intact.

"The track is wet and that will certainly play to his favour, but we've had enough rain."


Hawkes said the Canterbury Stakes in Sydney was a genuine option until late in the week.

"We thought about it right until acceptances time and we thought 1300 metres in Sydney first-up would be more like a 1400-metre race so that's why we're running him at Flemington," he said.

"The T.J. (Smith Stakes) is obviously the main race in Sydney but everything's open and nothing is closed.

"We need to see how he runs on Saturday to see how he measures up because this is a handicap and the T.J. is at weight-for-age, which is up another level again.

"He's good enough to do that - I think we all know that - but I suppose we just want to see him come out and do it."

The Hawkes stable has a second-stringer in the race with Trope coming off an unplaced Oakleigh Plate run where he got back and could not get into the race.

"He had no luck at all at Caulfield," Hawkes said. "The track bias and his racing pattern certainly played against us.

"He's only won the one race, but he's been desperately unlucky in a few others. He's a bit of a fluker's chance. He's a proper horse and we've always had big raps on him.

"His racing pattern will suit. Getting back, getting balanced and following a few horses and then hitting the line strong. Quite often those horses that race like that, they are the ones that do handle the straight racing.

"It's a horse-for-courses track."