Tough stayer Niwot (7g Galileo x Too Darn Hot, by Noble Bijou) scored a gallant long neck win over Melbourne Cup winner Efficient in the Group I ATC Sydney Cup at Randwick on Saturday.
Trained by Hawkes Racing, Niwot had looked to be in top form coming into the marathon 3200 metre event having finished fourth at his previous two runs in the Group I ATC BMW and Ranvet Stakes at weight-for-age.
Back to handicap conditions and stepping up in distance, Niwot found all to his liking and under a great ride from Dwayne Dunn was able to snatch a narrow win and claim his first Group I.
“I probably took the soft option when the field fanned. I could have gone back to the inside and got a run but I wanted him to get every chance,” Dwayne Dunn said.
The son of champion European sire Galileo hit the front at the 250 metres, taking over from Once Were Wild, but veteran stayer Efficient made it interesting as he charged home from back in the pack.
It was an emotional victory for Hawkes Racing, the team having spent much time and effort in the rehabilitation of Niwot, who shattered his knee in 2009 leaving his racing career in jeopardy.
“He’s not an easy horse to train. There was a lot of hard work early with him,” John Hawkes said.
“He’s always had a lot of ability and it’s nice to see him win a race like this.”
A $200,000 purchase from the Coolmore draft at the 2006 Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, Niwot is raced by a large group of owners and has won nine races and placed five times from 28 starts earning $1.1 million in prizemoney.
One of 98 stakes-winners worldwide for English Derby winner Galileo, Niwot is the 27th Group I winner for his champion sire.
Niwot is one of five winners, but the first stakes-winner for his stakes-winning dam Too Darn Hot (NZ), a daughter of former top class NZ based sire Noble Bijou (USA). His next two dams are by Balmerino and Mellay (GB), so it’s no surprise he can run a marathon trip.