Team Hawkes eyes Group 1 Australian Cup with Angel Of Truth, but Masked Crusader to bypass Newmarket

Team Hawkes hopes it can take advantage of a wide-open Group 1 Australian Cup on Saturday at Flemington, with Angel Of Truth set for the $1.5m autumn feature.

Angel Of Truth put in a strong Australian Cup trial in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes at Caulfield last start, going back and charging into sixth in a bunched finish, only 1.25 lengths behind the in-form Paradee.

“It was a big run … he went back to last, they trot, walked, cantered and he powered to the line,” Hawkes said.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a vintage Australian Cup, that’s for sure and certain, he wants to get back to Sydney for the wet tracks but we’re purposely keeping him here for the Australian Cup.”

Hawkes’ father John won the greatest Australian Cup with the champion Lonhro in 2004.

Lindsay Park has dominated the Australian Cup in recent years, having won the past three editions.

Last year’s winner Fifty Stars tuned up last Saturday, running second in the Group 2 Blamey Stakes.

TAB has the reigning Australian Cup champion at $4.50 all-in favourite from Nonconformist ($7) and Defibrillate ($11).

Group 1 Australian Derby winner Angel Of Truth, formerly with Gwenda Markwell, had four starts for Team Hawkes last year, culminating in an “unlucky” third in the Group 1 Metropolitan.

He has returned with two promising runs in Melbourne, finishing sixth both times but running on strongly from the back.

Since the Derby triumph, Angel Of Truth has gone 17 races – 694 days – without a victory.

Hawkes dismissed the streak, so taken by the five year-old’s most recent work in Melbourne.

“He’s been pretty push button (to train), just taken a preparation to come right, but he’s really on song and his couple of runs here have been first rate I’ve thought,” Hawkes said.

“He‘s thrived since he’s been here in Melbourne, really, really thrived.

“He’s not a monstrous horse, we never weigh them, but he would’ve put on weight, he’s done really well and the Australian Cup is going to be a pretty even race, he’s got to be some chance there.”

Angel Of Truth looks set to be the stable’s only Group 1 runner in Melbourne, with stablemate Masked Crusader “doubtful” to contest the Newmarket Handicap.

“Unfortunately, if I say he’s not running in the Newmarket they’ll want me to take him out of the Newmarket (nominations),” Hawkes said.

“He likes wet tracks and we’ve got more of a leaning to Sydney, because he’s there, but that’s not to say things can’t change.”

Originally published asHawkes chases second Australian Cup triumph

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