Winter Stakes: Bandersnatch secures back-to-back feature wins after ‘track gallop’

Sydney’s “winter wonder” Bandersnatch just keeps winning.

Bandersnatch shouldered topweight of 59ky in extremely heavy, testing track conditions but he never looked troubled racing away with the Listed $150,000 Winter Stakes (1400m) at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

The talented Team Hawkes-trained sprinter is in a rich vein of form and could be on the verge of a unique feature race treble.

Bandersnatch has reeled off successive wins in the Civic Stakes and Winter Stakes with connections tempted to keep him going for the Listed $150,000 Winter Challenge (1500m) on his home track at Rosehill Gardens in two weeks – a treble that has never been achieved previously.

Trainer Michael Hawkes said the Winter Challenge is a possibility but had a word of caution: “We will see how he pulls up because that track was extremely heavy and will take it out of him.’’

Bandersnatch takes out the Listed Winter Stakes for @[email protected] stayed on speed and kicked away! 👌 pic.twitter.com/yONPwcsgWj

Racing NSW stewards and Australian Turf Club officials inspected the Randwick course proper immediately after the Winter Stakes before ordering the final two races on the program be postponed due to the deteriorating track conditions and persistent heavy rain.

Bandersnatch ($7.50), ridden by Brenton Avdulla, secured another stakes win when he led throughout and coasted home more than three lengths clear of True Detective ($7.50) with Order Again ($10) a further two lengths away in third.

Hawkes said Bandersnatch gets through heavy going but is not completely at home in the conditions.

“I wouldn’t say he loves it but he was just far superior today,’’ Hawkes said.

“The only instruction I gave to Brenton before the race was to make sure it was a ‘track gallop’.

“When he gave Bandersnatch a bit of a squeeze in the straight, the horse half blundered but he grabbed hold of him again. If he had let him go, the horse would have floundered, legs everywhere.

“But Brenton knows the horse and rides him very well.’’

Avdulla was very aware of what was expected of him on Bandersnatch and said after the race: “I reckon if I’d let him go any more ‘Hawkesy’ would have blown up,” Avdulla joked.

“He’s a horse who you just have to let gallop sometimes and you can’t make him go any slower or faster, he just does his own thing.

“The other day I let him off the ‘chain’ halfway up the straight and I reckon he actually wobbled around on me so today I just kept him comfortable and he did his thing.”

Bandersnatch never gave his rivals a chance in the Winter Stakes. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Bandersnatch’s Winter Stakes win continued the outstanding season for Team Hawkes, who have prepared 88 winners on all tracks including three Group 1 successes from Ole Kirk (Golden Rose, Caulfield Guineas) and Masked Crusader (William Reid Stakes) and another 17 stakes successes for record stable earnings of more than $10.6 million prizemoney.

Hawkes, who trains in partnership with his brother Wayne and their father, Hall of Famer John, said Bandersnatch, who has only been under their care for two preparations, is still improving.

“We were thinking about pulling up stumps after this race and we might still do that,’’ Hawkes said.

“Later in the year, we could bring him back for races like The Gong and the Villiers Stakes, there are plenty of races to go around.

“We have tried to place this horse in the right races and really he hasn’t put a foot wrong since joining our stable.

“This is his third stakes win this year (he also won the Carrington Stakes in January).

“He is a progressive horse and his confidence is building with every start. Who knows where he might end up.’’

Rubisaki, regarded as a superior mudlark, was heavily backed into $2.80 favouritism, but was never in the race and trailed the field home, nearly 20 lengths behind Bandersnatch.

Stewards reported that no issues were found with Rubisaki after the race but connections indicated the mare would now be spelled.

At The Track with Matt Jones

AN OPPORTUNITY MISSED

A ride by Kerrin McEvoy early on the Randwick card should have been noted.

Stewards questioned apprentice Tom Sherry about why he didn’t hold his spot early aboard the well-backed $2.90 favourite Lancaster Bomber (second) in the sixth race.

He elected to come back to find cover on the inside rather than stay where he was and be caught a little deep in the 1100m race.

“Sometimes, it’s not a great disadvantage on a track like this at Randwick to be wide, especially when you’ve only got one bend,” chief steward Marc Van Gestel said.

“On heavy ground, it’s important not to give away advantages on a track as testing as this one today.”

McEvoy used his experience to win on Van Giz a few races earlier when he was happy to sit three-deep with no cover over 1100m. It was a lesson missed.

BARTLEY STUCK IN THE MIDDLE

Tracey Bartley is, naturally, a big fan of the new Midway races but he just hopes they don’t take away from midweek events.

“We’ve just got to be a bit careful because the benchmark 72 races on Wednesday might drop off a bit,” Bartley said.

The trainer said the introduction of the Midway races might not be enough to keep him at Wyong.

“I’m waiting on Cessnock,’’ Bartley said.

“If they throw money there, I’ll be there in a flash. I’d leave Wyong to go to Cessnock if they invest money there. I think it would be great to have that country status.”

The appeal of the $1.3 million Kosciuszko is massive.

DUNN SETTLES IN BIG SMOKE

Matthew Dunn is now living in Sydney full-time as he tries to become a force in the toughest metropolitan racing precinct in Australia.

Dunn dominated Highway Handicaps but wanted more than that and has been a city trainer for a little while, however, he has maintained his Murwillumbah base as wife Keira looked after the Warwick Farm operation.

“This is where the money is and this is the priority now after giving up the country status,” Dunn said after watching Go Troppo win at Randwick on Saturday.

Dunn has 80 still in work at his Murwillumbah property which will continue, but he’s keen on the big races in Sydney.

“We’ve got 50 horses in work at Warwick Farm and this is where our future is,” he said.

THE WRAP FROM RANDWICK

Follow: Broken Arrows (on a drier track), Savvy Legend (ready to win in town), Canadian Spice (missed the start but flew home)

Sack: Hulk (too many chances), De Grawin (no excuses)

Ride: Rachel King on Harpo Marx (great from the back)

Quote: “I think she is one of the great women athletes in Australia’s history, doing what she’s done” — Trainer Tony McEvoy after Jamie Kah’s 100th metropolitan winner in Melbourne on Saturday

Originally published asBandersnatch’s form temptation to keep going

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