By Simon Jackson.
Charlie Appleby hopes to secure a start with Hawkesbury at the All-Weather Championship Finals by winning the 32RedSport.com Conditions Stakes at Kempton Park tonight.
The winner of the six-furlong contest is guaranteed a start in the £150,000 Unibet Three-Year-Old Sprint at Lingfield on Good Friday and Appleby is hopeful that a return to six furlongs will prove to be the answer with the son of Shamardal.
Hawkesbury was second to Limato over six furlongs on his debut before scoring by seven lengths at Doncaster at his next start at when upped to seven furlongs.
He was then runner-up to subsequent Dewhurst Stakes winner Belardo in a Listed race at Newbury before finishing second again at the last start of his two-year-old campaign at Newmarket in October.
“Hawkesbury has been gelded since his last run,” Appleby revealed. “He has been a tricky customer and has been disappointing since he won by seven lengths at Doncaster.
“He has been showing us plenty of natural speed so we have dropped him back to six furlongs again and, hopefully, it will take the keenness off him. He ran over six furlongs at Kempton first time out and bumped into a smart horse in Limato.
“He expended too much energy early on at Newmarket last time out but the winner that day might be a nice horse. Getting him gelded has helped Hawkesbury and I hope that the drop back to six furlongs will get him back into a better style of racing.
“It’s a small field but, if they want to go steady, we will go forward and, if they go quick, we will drop in. He’s in good nick and I am confident that he will take a bit of pegging back.”
Horses qualify for the seven championship contests on the £1.1-million All-Weather Championships Finals Day by winning a specified ‘Fast Track Qualifier’ or running in a minimum of three races at Britain’s five All-Weather tracks.
Alternatively, one of the three qualifying runs can come at Dubai’s Meydan Racecourse (dirt) or on the all-weather surfaces at Ireland’s Dundalk and the French tracks of Cagnes Sur Mer, Chantilly and Deauville.
The six-race card at Kempton Park on Wednesday evening gets underway at 4.35pm and concludes at 7.10pm.
Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.