Trainer Wez Hunter is excited by the chances of talented veteran Smokin’ Joey in the featured Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 7th after the well-trialled gelding broke through for a maiden victory at the highest level of Australian racing in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) last time out.
Having reportedly pulled up in perfect order following his South Australian triumph, Hunter told AAP he is brimming with confidence after the Encosta De Lago gelding worked well at Cranbourne on Tuesday morning.
“We just took him to Cranbourne today for a clean out. We left the blinkers off him but gave him a nice little hit-out and he trialled really well,” Hunter said.
“I can’t wait to get up there.
“It’s exciting to have such a good horse and I think he’s a real live chance in a race like that.
“Seven furlongs is his pet distance and with hot speed on where he can be the one finish off should really suit him.”
Allocated an even 55kgs for the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap, the removal of top-weight and resounding favourite Buffering will mean an increase of half a kilogram for all remaining runners; something Hunter is not worried about in the slightest.
“He carried 56 in Adelaide and 55.5 will be no problem” Hunter added.
Claiming six wins and seven minor places from 38 competitive race starts to date, Smokin’ Joey was a noted performer over the 2013 Spring Racing Carnival; winning the Group 3 TAB.com.au Stakes (1400m) on November 2nd before finishing a short nose behind Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) just one week later.
Returning to the track in fair condition this time in, the six-year-old out of Dalzing was unable to match the late pace in either of the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) and Listed Super Saturday Stakes (1400m) first-up before returning to competitive form with a strong run for third in the Macaulay Handicap (1400m) on April 5th.
Offered slight chance of success in betting markets for the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap, Smokin’ Joey is currently available at generous $21 odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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