John Hawkes



John Hawkes rode the first winner he ever trained. It was at Strathalbyn in South Australia in 1971 and even Hawkes could not have imagined the heights he would reach in Australian racing over the next four decades.


"I only had two horses in work at the time," he recalled. "That was in an era when you could hold a dual licence [train and ride] in South Australia but they stopped that at the end of the 1970-71 season so I had to make a choice. I decided to train."



Within a year of becoming a full-time trainer, Hawkes was enjoying his first Group One successes with the champion filly Toltrice who won the fillies triple crown during the Melbourne spring carnival of 1972, the Thousand Guineas, Wakeful Stakes and Victoria Oaks.


Based in Adelaide at the time, Hawkes always seemed to have a good horse in the stable over the years. After Toltrice came Galena Boy (Victoria Derby), Runyon (Perth Cup), Goodwood Handicap winners Lord Galaxy and Cameronic, outstanding filly Pride Of Ingenue and juvenile sensation New Logic.

He moved to Melbourne in 1989 and trained for Jack and Bob Ingham out of Carbine Lodge at Epsom before four years later he took over the Inghams' racing empire when appointed head trainer at Warwick Farm in Sydney.


During this period, Hawkes had an unprecedented four-state operation with Warwick Farm the main stable base, and also establishing powerful stables out of Flemington (Melbourne), Eagle Farm (Brisbane) and Morphettville (Adelaide). Hawkes was the nation’s dominant trainer during this period and set a Commonwealth record of 334 wins in a season in 2001-02.


Hawkes is now acknowledged as one of the all-time great racehorse trainers with a record remarkable for its longevity and sheer consistency. He has won 10 national trainers' premierships, nine Sydney premierships, a six-time leading Group One trainer and nine-time leading stakes-winning trainer.


He has prepared a string of champions over the past two decades including two Horse of the Year winners, Octagonal and Lonhro, has led in more than 5500 race winners, including 110 Group One successes, and was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.


A study of his training record also underlines his versatility. Hawkes has proven his ability to train sprinters, middle distance gallopers and stayers, two and three-year-olds, classic winners and weight-for-age performers.


Octagonal, who won 10 Group One races and nearly $6 million prizemoney, was a champion every season he raced. He won the 1995 Group One AJC Sires Produce Stakes as a two-year-old and was unluckily beaten when second in the Golden Slipper the same year. Next season Octagonal won the Cox Plate, defeating a crack field of older, more proven gallopers, then completed a unique Grand Slam of Group One successes the following autumn when he won the Canterbury Guineas, Rosehill Guineas, Mercedes Classic and AJC Australian Derby. Octagonal remains the only horse to win the coveted triple crown (Canterbury Guineas, Rosehill Guineas, AJC Australian Derby) after the Derby was switched from spring to autumn in 1979.


As a four-year-old, Octagonal returned to win the Chipping Norton Stakes, Australian Cup and a second successive Mercedes Classic, before being retired to stud. 


His most notable achievement as a stallion was siring Lonhro, an 11-time Group One winner of almost $6 million prizemoney.


A consummate weight-for-age galloper, Lonhro was magnificently placed by Hawkes during a race career that continued until the end of his five-year-old season. Lonhro seemed to get better and more dominant with each preparation and will be remembered for some incredible wins _ his last-to-first effort in the 2001 Caulfield Guineas, his magnificent win over the mighty Sunline in an epic 2002 Yalumba Stakes, the phenomenal speed and power he displayed to win the 2003 and 2004 George Ryder Stakes, and an unforgettable performance to overcome severe interference and win the 2004 Australian Cup.


It was remarkable that Octagonal earned Australian Horse of the Year honours in 1995-96 then his son, Lonhro, emulated that feat in 2003-04.


Apart from Octagonal and Lonhro, there have been numerous top class racehorses to emerge from the Hawkes stables during the Ingham era including Accomplice, Arena, Over, Guineas, Viscount, Freemason, Niello, Railings, Paratroopers, Fiumicino and Mentality.


Since forming a training partnership with his sons Michael and Wayne, Team Hawkes has continued to produce outstanding racehorses including champion sprinters Chautauqua and All Too Hard, Golden Slipper winner Mossfun, The BMW winner Fiumicino, Sydney Cup winner Niwot, Caulfield Guineas winner Divine Prophet, Royal Randwick Guineas winner Inference, and the likes of Star Turn, Messene, Real Saga, Leebaz, Love Conquers All and Maluckyday.


Back in 1972, Hawkes established himself on the national stage when he trained a rare Victoria Oaks with Toltrice beating Little Papoose. The trainer and his stable has been renowned for their ability to produce top class fillies ever since including the likes of Pride Of Ingenue, Shame, Tributes, Lovelorn, the freakish Unworldly, Dizelle, Ike’s Dream, Mnemosyne, Forensics, Camarilla and Mossfun.


Hawkes was honoured with induction into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004. He is also a member of the South Australian Racing Hall of Fame.


Renowned as a workaholic, Hawkes has devoted his life to the thoroughbred. His days start before dawn most mornings and he is  often one of the last to leave the stables each day.


"Climbing the mountain and getting to the top is difficult but staying there is much harder," Hawkes once said.


"Racing is so competitive these days, there are a lot of good trainers, and it takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes to stay there and not start sliding down the other side."


Meticulous by nature, Hawkes sets high standards for himself and his stable staff. He seems to live by the maxim "the harder you work, the luckier you get".


PO Box 9005 Harris Park. NSW. 2150
Office +61 2 9637 1244 | Fax +61 2 9637 1255 |