HEADWATER treated some of Sydney’s best two-year-old with contempt and vaulted to Golden Slipper favouritism with a brilliant win at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.
The Group 2 $250,000 Silver Slipper Stakes (1100m) had been the most anticipated juvenile race of the season with five unbeaten youngsters clashing but the race turned into a procession with Headwater leading from the start and winning easing down.
“That was a great performance,’’ said in-form jockey Blake Shinn. “The win speaks for itself. He did everything right and beat some quality horses.
“He did everything you could ask for leading into the biggest two-year-old race of the season.
“This colt jumps, he travels, he can sit behind, he has acceleration, he has the looks — he is the complete package.’’
Shinn also won the feature juvenile race last week with Haptic in the Lonhro Plate and the champion jockey was forthright when asked to compare the two youngsters.
“Haptic’s win was tradesmanlike but Headwater has the X-factor,’’ he said.
Headwater, heavily backed into $2.45 favouritism, was never fully pressured by Shinn before scoring by two-and-a-quarter lengths from a game Voilier ($8) with Queenslander Mishani Honcho ($26) running on well for third, two lengths further back.
Ottoman ($4.40) was three wide from the jump and her fourth is excusable while Paceman ($3) also covered extra ground but disappointed with his struggling sixth.
TAB Fixed Odds price assessors reacted immediately to Headwater’s dominant effort and installed the youngster as the new favourite at $4.60 (in from $11) for the $3.5 million Golden Slipper (1200m) at Rosehill on March 21.
Team Hawkes prepared Mossfun to win the Silver Slipper and Golden Slipper 12 months ago and now have a very real opportunity to win the coveted double again with Headwater.
Co-trainer Michael Hawkes described Headwater as a “super colt” after the youngster scored his second win from as many starts.
“Headwater has been a natural from day one,’’ Hawkes said.
“I’ve got to give credit to my brother Wayne who runs our Flemington stables as a few weeks before the colt stepped out in a trial, he called and said we might have something very good here.’’
Hawkes said he is unsure if Headwater will have another start for the Golden Slipper.
“We may look to run him in the Todman Stakes in two weeks or we may give him a trial before the Golden Slipper,’’ Hawkes said.
“There is no rush to make that decision, we will let the colt tell us what to do.
“The good thing is he didn’t have a hard run today. He flew the machines which was great and although leading was probably the last option, Blake did the right thing and controlled the race.
“I told Blake before the race to just let the horse relax and go through his gears. He did that and the colt put paid to them and won untouched.’’
A superbly bred colt by Exceed And Excel out of River Dove, Headwater was a $500,000 Easter Yearling Sale purchase last year and in just two starts, he has shown that price tag to be cheap.
Headwater is owned by a high-profile syndicate including Vinery Stud, Kia Ora Stud and Black Caviar’s part-owner Neil Werrett.
Team Hawkes prepared All Too Hard to win four Group 1 races for Vinery Stud two years ago and they are developing another likely stallion prospect for the breeding operation with Headwater.
“Vinery have been great supporters of our stable and hopefully we have another star on the rise for them with Headwater,’’ Hawkes said.
Voilier’s run was excellent as he gamely chased an outstanding two-year-old to the line to finish second, while Mishani Honcho surprised some with his eye-catching third.
James McDonald, rider of Ottoman, admitted his filly’s effort to run fourth as “very common”.
“She is going to have to lift her game,’’ McDonald said.
Hugh Bowman, rider of Paceman, was similarly at a loss to explain his colt’s defeat.
“I don’t know what to make of his run,’’ Bowman said.
“We will take him home, have a look at him and reassess but he is much better than what he showed today.’’
GOLDEN SLIPPER BETTING
Headwater is the new favourite at $4.60 after trimming in from $11 following his win in the Silver Slipper.
Others from $15
TAB Fixed Odds