Hawkbill eyes Ebor after latest win

Hawkbill ridden by William Buick before winning The Coral-Eclipse Race run during Coral-Eclipse Day at Sandown Park Racecourse. (Picture: Julian Herbert/PA Wire)Hawkbill ridden by William Buick before winning The Coral-Eclipse Race run during Coral-Eclipse Day at Sandown Park Racecourse. (Picture: Julian Herbert/PA Wire)
Hawkbill ridden by William Buick before winning The Coral-Eclipse Race run during Coral-Eclipse Day at Sandown Park Racecourse. (Picture: Julian Herbert/PA Wire)
WILLIAM BUICK has ridden winners around the world since bursting onto the racing scene 10 years ago when parterning Bank On Benny to victory at Salisbury.

Few successes, however, have been important as his victory aboard Royal Ascot winner Hawkbill following a stirring finish to the Group One Coral-Eclipse at Sandown when the Classic generation of three-year-old champions take on their elders.

Not only did the win take the progressive horse’s winning streak to six as Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation continues its resurgence, but it was a redemptive ride for the 27-year-old on his final day in the saddle before the start of a controversial 30-day ban incurred during last month’s French Oaks.

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It was self-evident by the warmth of Buick’s embrace with Godolphin’s chief executive John Ferguson in the winner’s enclosure – the jockey had repaid the loyalty shown by his bosses over a ban which will see the rider miss a string of high-profile meetings.

Buick, a former Northern Racing College graduate, has always had a slightly impetuous streak. He’s been a regular visitor to the stewards room and the incident at Chantilly aboard Highlands Queen – he was accused of starting a concertina movement that saw one jockey unseated from his mount – was compounded by an undiplomatic outburst that saw his suspension doubled.

Yet the two-time St Leger winner is also a naturally gifted horseman who is brilliant when just riding off the pace and this was self-evident at Sandown when the heroic Hawkbill, trained by Charlie Appleby, hit the front in the home straight.

As Buick’s great friend and rival Ryan Moore loomed large on The Gurkha, it looked likely that Aidan O’Brien’s French Derby winner would pull clear on rain-softened ground.

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However, Hawkbill, who had to be supplemented for the race, dug deep – Buick twice switching his whip seamlessly to ensure there was no coming together of these two tiring thoroughbreds in the closing stages.

It was a winning ride that left Moore and O’Brien shaking their heads in disbelief.

“What a lovely horse and what a call by the whole team to supplement the horse. It’s absolutely fantastic for the team,” said an emotional Buick who won the 2012 Eclipse on Nathaniel.

“Winning these big races is very important but very hard to do and this horse has come at an important time for me. It’s massive to win this race, we’ll let the dust settle but he is a very good horse and the future is bright. His demeanour has changed a lot this year – with every run he has grown up, mentally and physically. I’m a little bit speechless to be honest with you, it means a lot.”

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This win can be measured by the fact that Sea The Stars and Golden Horns, two modern greats, are the only other three-year-old colts to win the Eclipse in the past decade.

As for the future, there’s every possibility Hawkbill will line up in York’s Juddmonte International next month, the day one highlight of the Ebor festival. He does not feature amongst the initial entries, but this will not deter connections and Buick will be available again.

“I think it’s an ace up his sleeve that he can handle those (soft) conditions, but he’s a Kitten’s Joy colt and an extremely good mover. He’s an athlete,” said Appleby when nominating the York race as a target. “I’d be confident a sounder surface should suit him better.”

Hawkbill was not Godolphin’s only big-race winner as Endless Time took the Group Two bet365 Lancashire Oaks at Haydock on her seasonal debut – the Yorkshire Oaks is now on the agenda.

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Meanwhile, Brando – who won Sandown’s Coral Charge for Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan – is likely to head for the Nunthorpe Stakes, the Ebor festival’s top sprint.

In the meantime, bargain buy Tawdeea – who won more than four times his purchase price when collecting the bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock for North Yorkshire trainer David O’Meara – could turn out quickly for the John Smith’s Cup at York this weekend.

This year’s renewal will have a record prize fund of £200,000 and Heineken is to continue its sponsorship for another three years. The new deal will conclude in 2019 – the 60th anniversary of the handicap.

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