Tawqeet Squeaks By in Caulfield Cup Upset

Sheikh Hamdan gained another major Australian success when his Kingmambo son, Tawqeet, triumphed in a dramatic Caulfield Cup (Aus-I) Oct 21.

The Sheikh sent Tawqeet south earlier this year, telling trainer David Hayes the horse was better than Jeune, the Kalaglow horse they won the Melbourne Cup (Aus-I) with 12 years ago.

"It's hard to say he's better," Hayes said in the afterglow of the success in the $2.5 million (Australian funds) major 2,400 meters handicap.

"Jeune was Australian Horse of the Year," Hayes said. "But I tell you what, he's probably got to win only one more and he'll also be Horse of the Year."

The "one more" is the $5 million Melbourne Cup (Aust-I) over 3,200 meters of Flemington Nov. 7. Tawqeet is now the 5-1 favorite, two points shorter than the Irish horse Yeats, to be partnered by Kieren Fallon.

To win the 129th edition, before a crowd of 47,500, Tawqeet (16-1) burst through near the inside to cut down 5-year-old Danehill mare Aqua d'Amore (30-1) and win by a widening long neck.

In a crowded finish, Japan representative Delta Blues (Jpn) finished strongly, a rapidly diminishing short neck away to grab third, a short head in advance of Activation (7-1).

Sphenophyta, the 34-10 elect was close up fifth from another Lee Freedman runner, Our Smoking Joe (5-1). The latter appeared to find the surface too hard.

At 2:27.69, the time for the 2,400 meters is a bit over two seconds wide of the track and race mark set six years ago.

Delta Blues (Dance in the Dark-Dixie Splash by Dixieland Band) left Caulfield with his right hind leg heavily bandaged. But Toshihide Kiyota, racing manager for handler, Katsuhiko Sumii, said the 6 year-old's injury was superficial and would not hinder his preparation for the Melbourne Cup.

At his first race since tenth behind Deep Impact in the [Spring] Tenno Sho (Emperor's Cup, Jpn-I & 3,100 meters) April 30, Delta Blues (80-1) was trapped from the 16 gate under Nash Rawiller and turned in a great Melbourne Cup trial. Yasunari Iwata or Utake Take will ride the horse at Flemington.

By comparison, the other Yoshida entry, Pop Rock, went the post solidly supported at 12-1. The Helissio 6-year-old was expected to be ridden close to the lead by Damien Oliver, seeking a record-equaling fifth win in the race.

But Pop Rock wound up seventh, around 1 1/2 lengths from the winner, full of running and with precious little space to do it in. He had been twelfth of the 18 into the final 800 meters.

Oliver said the long-striding horse had trouble negotiating the tight Caulfield turns and would be much better suited at the larger Flemington circuit.

Pop Rock is raced by the Katsumi Yoshida-headed Sunday Racing Syndicate, for whom Eye Popper ran second at 40-1 behind Railings in last year's Caulfield Cup. Railings' Cup defense resulted in a fair 10th.

The Cup success was the 44th grade I win by Hayes, a day shy of his 44th birthday. He prepared Fraar to win the 1993 Caulfield Cup for Sheikh Hamdan two years before a 10-year sojourn in Hong Kong. His late father, Colin, won the race with How Now 30 years ago.

Sheikh Hamdan's first Australian success with grand Roberto son, At Talaq, came in the 1986 Melbourne Cup.

By contrast, Godolphin's Cup search for a first Melbourne Cup is still up in the air after the talented Imperial Stride missed a vital lead-up in the Caulfield Cup through injury.

Dwayne Dunn had ridden Tawqeet flawlessly to win Sydney's major 1 1/2-mile handicap, the Metropolitan (Aus-I), at the expense of Activation Oct 7. He also piloted Nadeem home for the Sheikh in the Blue Diamond Stakes (Aus-I) in February.

As he had at Randwick, the 33 year-old South Australian jockey again rode the 4-year-old (5 to southern time) for luck from an inside gate [2]. After being held up momentarily off the final bend, the winner again showed ample acceleration to make his luck in the stretch.

Before the Sheikh sent him south on a quest for a third Melbourne Cup success, Tawqeet was placed third behind Scorpion and The Geezer in the English St Leger (Eng-I) in September last year.

Bred in the U.S. by 6C Stallions Limited, Tawqeet is from the Caerleon daughter, Caerless, a winner against maidens at Bath, England. His second dam, Barger, is by Riverman from the celebrated Trillion, making her an own sister to Triptych. Nine grade I wins in England and France earned Triptych two champion older European distaffer titles and the nickname of the 'Iron Maiden'.

Barger won to the grade III level in France and placed at grade I. She has produced European graded winners to Sadler's Wells and Nureyev – Narrative and Baya.

Tawqeet came under the Shadwell banner when a representative harvested him at the 2003 Tattersalls Houghton yearling sale for £100,000.

The other Cup runners from the Hayes barn, Growl (by Montjeu) and Short Pause (Sadler's Wells), made no impact and finished in the last six.

Aqua d'Amore appeared home for Sue Magnier's Coolmore syndicate, when Stephen Baster dashed her two lengths clear at the top of the lane. The run appeared like the parting of the Red Seas when pacemaker Our Smoking Joe rolled out at the last bend.

The Gai Waterhouse-prepared mare had gained a sweet run at the rail just behind the leaders. Baster said the fact she over-raced in some sections told against her at the end, but that it was a tremendously brave effort to beat all but Tawqeet.

He is the fifth horse to complete the Metropolitan-Caulfield Cup double in the same year. Also in the group is Railings, penalized 2kg for last year's Melbourne Cup, in which he ran fourteenth. A similar penalty would lift Tawqeet's Cup weight to 55.kg [122 pounds]. Yeats is top weight with 59kg [130].

The Australian Jockey Club, which conducts the Metrop at Randwick, again pays out a $250,000 bonus for the big 'cap double. It and the $1.5 million Cup prize advanced Tawqeet's eanings to $2,394,548 – from five wins at 15 career starts. Another $250K will be added if he wins the Melbourne Cup.