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EXPRESSWAY STAKES

Our Boy Malachi defies betting drift to score emotional Expressway Stakes win

Our Boy Malachi first had to defy an 11th-hour call on whether he would line up in the Expressway Stakes — and then a savage betting drift — before scoring an emotional win in the Rosehill feature on Saturday.

Co-trainers John Hawkes and and his son Michael conceded it was a flip of the coin decision on whether the now 18-race winner would resume on a rain-affected track in the group 2 sprint as punters flocked to back Solicit ($2.60) into favouritism.

Pumped: Tommy Berry and Our Boy Malachi.
Pumped: Tommy Berry and Our Boy Malachi. Photo: bradleyphotos.com.au

But Tommy Berry speared to the front on the Rockhampton Rocket, which opened as short as $1.90 on course before being sent out a $3.30 second elect, and was never headed as he coasted to a three-length win from Solicit with Big Money close-up in third.

The horse's central Queensland breeder Col Donovan died just over a year ago, but Our Boy Malachi was cheered on by his daughter Jess and brother Ross who were trackside to see the speedster jet to another victory.

"I just stood back and watched," Michael Hawkes said. "It's probably a bit emotional, but to get him back and do what he's done [is fantastic].

"We were 50-50 on running him this morning, I'll be honest. Do we or don't we? You know he's got the form on the board with the wet tracks, but it's always in the back of your mind. You've got to be mindful of it. He's a racehorse and has got a will to win."

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Our Boy Malachi's return was always going to be a nervous one after a last-start bleeding attack in the Doomben 10,000 and an awkward barrier trial on Monday, but Berry quickly allayed those fears.

He coasted to the lead and quickly put away his rivals at the top of the Rosehill straight. The Hawkes must now decide whether to send Our Boy Malachi to Melbourne for the group 1 sprints and a clash with stablemate Chautauqua.

"It's good to see him back because what happened last prep was a big letdown for [myself], the owners and the Hawkes team," Berry said. "You hate seeing that stuff happen to good horses.

"I gave him a couple around the bum because even though he was three in front he was on tired legs and I didn't know how close they were. He's got plenty of improvement in him."

On the task of winning a major this campaign, Hawkes said: "He might have to meet a grey horse [Chautauqua], but you know what? It doesn't matter. As long as he's still racing like this and has the will to win you've got to take them on."

Solicit's trainer Gerald Ryan was happy with the return of his star mare as he plots a path to group 1 targets in Melbourne next month.

"She's taken on a gun sprinter at his own game and I thought she ran super," Ryan said. "I'm very happy with it."

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