Day At The Track

Hawke hoping to shoot down big guns

08:12 AM 29 Apr 2016 NZST
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Modern Maestro
Modern Maestro

Leading Canberra trainer Michael Hawke knows Modern Maestro is facing the biggest test of his short career. On Saturday night Modern Maestro will line up in the $50,000 Group 2 Carousel at Tabcorp Park Menangle and will travel up the Hume Highway during the afternoon. The harness racing four year old gelding has won nine of his eleven starts - the two defeats coming when the horse has travelled to Sydney.

Hawke has been proud of Modern Maestro in both defeats and is expecting the son of Modern Art to put in another solid performance this weekend.

"His first defeat came at Menangle, he charged home and ran fourth but not everything was right with him and he bounced straight back at his next start," Hawke said.

"When he ran second at Penrith in the heat of the Carousel I thought he was outstanding. The lead time was fast and he really made Kept Under Wraps work for the win and while there would have been a fair bit of improvement in the McCarthy trained horse, I think it proved that my bloke isn't too far away."

Modern Maestro holds the track record for the 2170 metres at Canberra suggesting the 2300 metres on Saturday night will not be a concern.

"His versatility is one of his biggest attributes, he tries very hard and he'll have no problems handling the 2300 metres. As a result of his assessment he was always going to draw well and I think when you draw well in big races you have to make use of the good gate.

"We'll go forward early and try to get to the marker pegs, it makes it hard when you settle in the running line because there will be a lot of moves in the middle stages and the horses racing off the pegs could end up near the tail of the field."

Hawke's daughter Melissa will drive the gelding in what will be the biggest race of her career.

"I'm sure she'll be nervous but young kids just deal with nerves and once they get out on the track she'll be fine. I'm worse than her, I get very nervous and I like to watch the race by myself.

"Melissa and Fred (Modern Maestro) get on so well together. He is a really good natured animal but he doesn't like getting beaten."

Modern Maestro is raced by a group of people including Wayne and Joy Gowland, Sue and Andrew Marbrow and Mark Lees.

"Wayne is a great bloke and his mother Joy has a share in the horse. Andrew Marbrow works for Wayne and he and his wife are in their first horse and Mark Lees is a good family friend of Wayne's. They are a great group of people to go racing with.

"I was speaking with Wayne and he would be wrapped if Modern Maestro could finish in the top four. I really think he will be a better horse in twelve months once he has had the opportunity to go to Menangle constantly."

The Lands Legal Carousel is race seven at Tabcorp Park Menangle on Saturday night and is scheduled to begin at 7:24pm.

Greg Hayes

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