John Hawkes Thoroughbred Horse Trainer
John Hawkes Australia Wide Horse Trainer
There are famous thoroughbreds, famous jockeys and successful trainers studding the history of horse racing in Australia.
Their exploits in the realm of Australia’s third most popular spectator sport make for entertaining reading as well as spirited discussion and the stewards of the sport of going to considerable lengths to ensure that the accounts of the various competitors is preserved for the enjoyment of future generations.
Horses such as Phar Lap, Kingston Town, Black Caviar and Tulloch are immediately recognizable.
Well Established Name
The names of T.J. Smith or Bart Cummings are a couple that even someone with little interest in the sport could identify. Jockeys such as Mick Dittman, Roy Higgins and George Moore have been and are national heroes.
One interesting wrinkle in this chronicling of the famous characters that have left marks on racing history is the story of John Hawkes.
John Hawkes was one of the few who has served as a jockey and a trainer simultaneously during the time when it was permissible to hold licenses for both roles.
John Hawkes did the majority of his riding in the lovely city of Adelaide and it must be acknowledged that his results did not place him amongst the elite.
When he shifted his focus to training in the 1072-73 season, however, his experience as a rider served to reveal that he had all the makings of a top trainer, and his results soon began to testify to that assertion.
Winning At High Level
He immediately began to win at high levels of competition, notching his first Group 1 win courtesy of Toltrice in the 1972 VRC Oaks. He added the SAJC Oaks by preparing Little Papoose, a race he again won in 1978 with Runaway Bridge.
John Hawkes added the Victoria Derby to his tote in 1975 via his efforts with Galena and 1982 featured the South Australian Derby.
The entire decade of the 80s found Hawkes at or near the top for the South Australia trainers’ premiership.
He ventured to Melbourne in 1989 and formed a successful triumvirate with owners Bob and Jack Ingram. This is where Hawkes’ true training talent came to the fore and produced for him a remarkable nine Sydney trainers’ premierships.
Adelaide, Brisbane Sydney And Melbourne
John Hawkes would go on to manage racing operations in Adelaide and Brisbane as well as in Sydney and Melbourne.
Those efforts produced in excess of 3,000 wins, $20 million in prize money and over ninety Group 1 level wins.
He established a then all-time record for winnings in a season with over $11 million for the 1998-99 season. The 2001-02 season saw a record breaking 334 victories , multiple wins in the VRC Oaks, the Victoria Derby, the Coolmore Lightning Stakes and the Golden Slipper Stakes.
As for notable horses out of Hawkes’ efforts, Octagonal would have to take the prize. He won major races in 1994 that led to his being declared Australian Champion Two-Year-Old. He continued as a three-year-old, winning in 1995 at the Cox plate and BMW.
1995 - 96 Season
At the conclusion of the 1995-96 season, he was Australia’s Champion three-year-old while becoming the most recent winner of the Australian Triple Crown. He retired having won half of his 28 starts, with 10 Group 1 victories to his credit and 8 placings in other Group 1 and Group 2 events. His prize money was a then record of almost $6 million.
Octagonal presented John Hawkes with Lonhro in 1998. That horse was to exceed his sire’s Group 1 tally by one, totaling 11.
He was declared Australian Racehorse of the Year honours in 2004 and earlier, in 2002, had been Australia’s Champion Three-Year-Old. He was to win 26 of 35 starts, a statistic that exceeds even Kingston Town, Phar Lap and Tulloch.
Of course, whether it was to Hawkes’ credit for taking good horses and getting the best from them or if it was the horses that made the trainer look good is difficult to say with certainty, but while it may be true that Lonrho and Octagonal were examples of the latter, John Hawkes 3,000 plus victories would seem to offer strong arguments for the former.
No fewer than seven other horses supplied Group 1 victories to Hawkes, so it would appear that the case of hard work and preparation meeting at the intersection with success was the case with Hawkes.
2006 - 07 Season
Following the 2006/07 season, John Hawkes parted ways with the Inghams after having produced 153 wins for that season. He would then go on to start his own racing operation and in the process. Bring his sons into the fold.