By MITCH FENTONhttp://www.weekendking.com.au

Highly touted 3yo Snitzel colt SOOBOOG, the full brother to Gr1 winner & Golden Slipper runner-up Snitzerland, has dug deep in the final stages of todays 1100m “Tab.com.au Maiden Handicap” at Canterbury to finally break his maiden status in dogged fashion, at his 4th attempt.

From day 1 at the barrier trials the Team Hawkes trained “blue blooded” colt has shown enormous promise.

He debuted in the listed Breeders Plate at Randwick last October as an odds on $1.70 favourite. He was beaten that day by unbeaten champion 2yo & Golden Slipper winner Vancouver, which turned out to be the best 2yo form in the nation in time. He wasn’t disgraced by any means, only fading late after a two-horse war down the straight, to be beaten a length and a quarter. He did plenty wrong in the race & Team Hawkes decided he wasn’t going to be an early 2yo.

So he was immediately tipped out to the paddock.

Vancouver (inside) draws away from Sooboog to win the listed Breeders Plate on Epsom Day at Randwick
Vancouver (inside) draws away from Sooboog to win the listed Breeders Plate on Epsom Day at Randwick

After a 6 month break, he resumed 1st up in the Gr3 Kindergarten Stakes at Randwick on a heavy track. The bookie boys, took an alarming set against him, winding him out to start at $5 after opening $2.60, despite coming into the race off the back of two terrific trials – he ran accordingly to the money trail, always well back after blowing the start. He pulled up with a slow recovery rate and again was immediately tipped straight out to the paddock after the single run.

After a 4 month spell and another terrific trial win, they took him to Gosford on August 13 for an “easy kill”….Things again went sour pre-race, he lashed out violently after being loaded and was taken out of the stalls and vetted. The vet passed him fit, which disgusted Michael Hawkes who was adamant the horse should have been scratched and that was proven to be correct, as he was found to be lame post race. Punters backed him in from $1.20 to start “Black Caviar like odds” of $1.10, and got burnt to a crisp as he could only manage 7th beaten 4L. He had very valid excuses though, the stewards report read;

“Stewards Advice: Pre Race: Underwent a veterinary examination and was declared fit to start. Post Race: Rider B Shinn explained that the colt, after beginning awkwardly, never travelled at any stage and failed to run on. A post race veterinary examination revealed the colt to be lame in the off hind leg, to have a laceration to the off hind stifle and to have blood present in the nearside nostril with no signs of external trauma.”

The report provided definite excuses, but the was cold comfort for the brave souls who buttered up at the prohibitively short odds-on quote.

Sooboog recovered quickly however and luckily the damage wasn’t as bad as it may have been.

Team Hawkes finally decided to push on into a campaign and give the 3yo colt another run into a preparation. To say most every punter on track and watching at home wrote it off even before barrier rise is a huge understatement, as was the case at his 2nd start failure, he blew like Cyclone Tracy in betting. He opened up $3.50 and officially SP’d at $8.50, a huge drift in the market by any standard! But unlike his 2nd start failure when soft in the marketplace, he sprung the gates today and Berry showed all the initiative in the world to scoot around them and park outside the leader, on top of what was only a muddling tempo.

Race favourite Deploy, who was heavily supported from $3 to $2.80, as opposed to Sooboog, got a lovely trail in transit on Sooboog’s back and Blake Shinn on Deploy tracked Sooboog all the way around the corner, until peeling out in the straight to loom large on the outside of Sooboog. Deploy quickly ranged up on the outside of Sooboog and looked for your life like it was going to race straight on by. But Sooboog was having none of that and he finally showed a glimpse of why he has such a big boom on his ability, as he dug in for a two-horse war over the final 200m. The two paired off nose for nose over the final furlong, but it was the “enigma” Sooboog who proved the toughest, sticking his head out on the line to defeat Deploy by a short-half head margin and finally get the monkey off his back.

sooboog win photo finish
Sooboog (extreme inside) finally breaks his maiden at Canterbury, sticking his nose out to defeat race favourite Deploy

It might only be a maiden win but it was none the less impressive. Deploy is a decent quality horse and to pick himself up when he looked beaten, conceding the runner up 2kg at the weights was a very good effort. Sooboog still has plenty to learn about the caper, but today’s breakthrough win will do his confidence a world of good. I think he’ll go right on with it now. I’m not saying he’ll win a group race just yet, but I will say if he does ever fulfil his potential he will become a group race winner and an extremely valuable stallion prospect, being so well related.