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Morphettville’s Phillip Stokes is preparing for a big Melbourne Festival of Racing with his young Adelaide raider Hucklebuck who is back in work ahead of an Australian Guineas 2014 bid.
The Elvstroem gelding has had a flying start to their career this year winning three of their opening five starts, and placing top two in the others.
After a big four and a half length win on debut at Gawler in August they went to Morphettville Parks in September and won again when stepped up to 1250m.
From there it was straight on the interstate circuit with Stokes taking the promising three-year-old to Melbourne.
They were third to subsequent Blue Sapphire winner Lion Of Belfort at Moonee Valley in their first big city start before backing up 22 days later to bag some black type at Caulfield.
They did it in eye catching style too relishing a step up to 1400m on October 19, Caulfield Cup Day, to win the Listed Gothic Stakes by two lengths over Le Mans.
That win made Hucklebuck one of Stokes’ stakes winning trio for the spring in Melbourne joining his Guineas Prelude winning Savabeel gelding Éclair Big Bang and smart mare Molto Bene who won the Paris Lane Stakes at Flemington.
Their latest start was at Flemington on Derby Day when they went down by less than half a length when second to Paximadia in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) after over racing early in their first look at the mile.
Stokes remains confident he’s got a genuine miler, and genuine Group winner, on his hands and is looking forward to the autumn return of Hucklebuck.
The youngster will again feature in the Melbourne races next season during the autumn carnival.
Their major goal will be the $500,000 Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) back at Flemington on March 1.
While much of his focus is on the Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival campaign of Hucklebuck, Stokes is also looking forward to possibly running his lightly raced three-year-old Lucky Symbol this weekend.
The Magnus gelding has had just the two runs, both at home at Morphettville to date, but has showed plenty winning both with ease.
They are dually nominated for their third start this Saturday, a Benchmark 72 over 1050m in Adelaide as well as a Benchmark 78 over 1000m at Caulfield.
Stokes plans to accept for both before making his final decision on where they’ll run post barrier draws.
He also hopes Lucky Symbol can continue to rise through the ranks and join some of their stablemates in Melbourne next year.
“He’s still very raw and I reckon he’s a preparation away,” Stokes told AAP.
“He’s a nice sprinter. I wouldn’t say he’s in the Eclair Big Bang calibre yet, but he might be a three-year-old stakes horse next year.”
They could first be tested at home in the Group 2 Centrebet Classic (1200m), a race also on the agenda for his 2014 Goodwood hope Éclair Big Bang.
To follow the autumn progress of Hucklebuck make sure you stay tuned to Races.com.au.
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