Masked Crusader set for TJ Smith Stakes at Randwick

Hawkes Racing is hoping the Sydney rain stops and the Randwick track can dry out as they look to capture a Group 1 race with Masked Crusader.

The sprinter is heading back to Sydney to run in the T J Smith (1200m) at Randwick on Saturday.

Masked Crusader finished second to Nature Strip in the 1200m contest last year having won the Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at The Valley three weeks earlier.

The Sydney Autumn Carnival was pushed back a week last year after the Golden Slipper meeting was washed out and this year there is only eight days between the William Reid and T J Smith.

Ironically, Saturday’s Rosehill meeting was washed out after three races with the remaining seven to be held at Newcastle on Monday with the remainder to of Sydney Autumn Carnival to run as scheduled.

Masked Crusader has campaigned in Melbourne this preparation chasing a second Group 1 win, but not all has gone to plan for Hawkes Racing.

The sprinter finished fifth to Home Affairs in the Group 1 Lightning Stakes (1000m) at Flemington on February 19 before finishing seventh to outsider Roch ‘N’ Horse in the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) at Flemington two weeks later.

Co-trainer Wayne Hawkes said Masked Crusader did not handle the straight track at Flemington.

“You won’t see him there again,” Hawkes said.

“His first run was a bit all over the shop because that three-year-old (Profiteer) interfered with them all.

“Then he still punched the line pretty strong the other day, but he’s not a straight horse and he was looking for a corner.

“I also don’t want it too wet for him. It’s got to stop raining. He doesn’t love the wet tracks.”

Masked Crusader split Nature Strip and Eduardo in last year’s T J Smith and again split that pair in The Everest over the same course and distance in October.

Nature Strip is the $2.50 market leader with TAB for the T J Smith ahead of Eduardo ($4) and Masked Crusader ($8) ahead of final acceptances and barrier draw.

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