Former New Zealand galloper Kingsguard delivered on his undoubted promise for his patient connections when he raced away with the Gr.3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup (1600m) on Saturday.
Co-bred and raced by Windsor Park Stud, the five-year-old Rip Van Winkle gelding had looked a horse with plenty of potential during his early career in New Zealand. Although unable to secure a victory in six starts here he had been close-up behind some talented rivals including a runner-up finish to Gr.1 2000 Guineas (1600m) winner Xtravagant during the 2015 Ellerslie Christmas Carnival.
Transferred to the powerful Hawkes family stable in Sydney, Kingsguard broke his maiden status at Canterbury in November 2016 and had registered a further three victories before Saturday’s first in stakes company.
“He had shown us plenty in his early days here in New Zealand,” said Windsor Park Stud Manager Rodney Schick.
“He pushed Xtravagant hard at Ellerslie and then ran third behind Mackintosh and Raghu at his next start.
“He probably just wasn’t strong enough at that stage to round things off but once he got to Sydney he really started to develop and has gone from strength to strength.”
Schick admitted there was plenty of confidence in the Hawkes camp that the horse could turn an indifferent form line around in Saturday’s contest.
“On paper his form was pretty scratchy, but he hadn’t had a lot of luck in his last few runs,” he said.
“The stable had set him for this race and once he drew a good barrier they were confident of a good performance.
“He got a lovely run in transit and proved too good for them in the run home. It was a great reward for all the people involved with him as they are a good bunch and deserved to have him win a good race like that.”
Schick is unsure of where the horse would be aimed next but didn’t discount a trip north to the Queensland Winter Carnival.
“We haven’t really thought about where to go next but I’m sure the Hawkes team will come up with a plan in the next few days,” he said.
“There is plenty of good money around in his home state but there are also some races that look like they would suit up in Brisbane so a trip to their Winter Carnival is definitely an option that will be considered.”
The victory capped a memorable day for Kingsguard’s sire Rip Van Winkle who had earlier enjoyed a winning double in New Zealand with Princess El Jay successful at Te Rapa and Lubaya saluting at Hastings.