Courtesy of a masterpiece by William Pike, four-year-old Toronado (IRE) gelding Masked Crusader careered away with the $500,000 Group 1 William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on Friday night.

Taking a step back at the start, Masked Crusader was hunted up by Pike to hold the fence three pairs back.

With the field spread across the track in the straight, Pike stuck to the rail before finding a narrow seam between Pippie and Portland Sky.

There was no flinching in taking the gap. Masked Crusader bullocked through with a brilliant burst of acceleration to win by two and a half lengths from Portland Sky (Deep Field) with a long-neck back to Libertini (I Am Invincible) in third.

Trained by Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes, Masked Crusader had his first taste at the highest level at his previous start when a luckless third behind Savatiano and Mizzy in the Canterbury Stakes at Randwick.

That came after Masked Crusader enjoyed his first stakes success in the Group III Southern Cross Stakes at Randwick.

The 4yo son of Toronado (IRE) advances his record to five wins a second and two thirds from 10 starts with earnings of $572,275.

“You need everything to go right, and three back the fence, when they were going hard, was just perfect,” Wayne Hawkes said.

“I can’t believe he got that needle eye gap. I haven’t seen the reply, but there must have been nothing in it. He is not going home W Pike, sorry Mr Peters, he is not going home.

“It was the right move to bring him down from Sydney and get the Group 1.

“It is a great thing for Toronado (IRE). He is a Victorian stallion. I’m a proud Victorian, and it is good for a Victorian horse that was bought out of William Inglis in Melbourne to get the job done.

“That bought him as a potential stallion, but they quickly made the decision to geld him, so they deserve everything they get.”

A $340,000 purchase by Hawkes Racing / Cameron Cooke Bloodstock out of the Gilgai Farm draft at the 2018 Inglis Premier Yearling Sale, Masked Crusader, is the most expensive yearling sold at public auction by his sire.

Masked Crusader a $340,000 Inglis Premier Yearling

masked crusader as yearling

He is the best of three winners from four to race out of the Listed VRC Ottawa Stakes winner She’s Got Gears (Invincible Spirit).

Purchased by Dermot Farrington for $700,000, on behalf of Gilgai Farm, at the 2015 National Broodmare Sale, She’s Got Gears has a 2yo colt by Sebring named Insurgence, purchased by China Horse Club/Newgate Bloodstock/ Stonestreet for $825,000 at the 2020 Gold Coast Yearling Sale.

She’s Got Gears has not had a foal in the past two seasons. She was covered by Toronado (IRE) again last spring.

Masked Crusader becomes the first Group 1 winner for Swettenham Stud’s shuttler Toronado (IRE). The son of High Chaparral (IRE) covered  a career-high of 210 mares last spring at a fee of $27,500.