It is shaping-up as a huge year for Benjamin...
Trainer Phillip Stokes has confirmed that the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at Flemington on March 1 is the major 2014 Melbourne Festival Of Racing goal for talented gelding Hucklebuck.
Hucklebuck has had just five race starts since making his debut in August last year and showed plenty of talent during his 2013 Spring Racing Carnival campaign; recording a strong win in the Listed Gothic Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on October 19 before flashing home late to finish second in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Victoria Derby Day.
The son of Elvstroem is set to return to the races in a 1200 metre event at Adelaide on Saturday and will return to Melbourne for the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at Flemington on February 15 before making his Group 1 debut in the Australian Guineas.
Stokes has always had a big opinion of Hucklebuck and told Racing Victoria that he is confident that the three-year-old can perform well at the highest level during his autumn preparation.
“We haven’t got him fully wound up, he wouldn’t even be 80% fit yet so he’ll improve with every run that he has going into the Guineas,” Stokes said.
“He wasn’t out in the paddock for a great deal of time but he’s done well and has thickened up.
“He’s a lovely type of a horse and has got a great attitude towards everything.
“He did a really good job during the spring considering it was only his first campaign so he can only can get better.”
Stokes is so confident in the ability of Hucklebuck that he included him in the nominations for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m) at Flemington on March 8 and has not ruled out a maiden tilt at weight-for-age level for his star galloper.
“Super Cool did it last year and three-year-olds have got a good record in the race so we won’t say no at this stage,” Stokes said.
Stokes has previously won the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m) in Adelaide with Marju Snip (2006) and Maybe Discreet (2013), but his chasing his first win at Group level in Victoria.
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