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Adelaide trainer Phillip Stokes has warned 2014 Queensland Guineas favourite for Saturday Hucklebuck could still be scratched from the three-year-old’s showdown and go straight to the Stradbroke Handicap the following weekend.
Elvstorem gelding Hucklebuck is currently the $4.60 favourite to win the $350,000 Group 2 Sky Racing Queensland Guineas (1400m), set to run on Queensland Oaks Day as Race 6 at 3:00pm (AEST) at Eagle Farm.
They are drawn wide in barrier 15, into 11 if the emergencies come out of the capacity 18-starter field, and come off a first-up fourth to fellow Guineas hope Havana in the Group 3 Fred Best Classic (1350m).
Tipped to improve on that run second-up and return to the winning form that saw them take out the Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) in Melbourne during the autumn, Hucklebuck was originally entered for the Guineas to help them make the field for Saturday week’s $1.36 million Group 1 AAMI Stradbroke Handicap (1400m).
After Stradbroke Handicap 2014 first declarations were taken this week however, Hucklebuck is safely assured of a spot sitting 14th on the ballot.
While he’s accepted for the Queensland Guineas, a run and win in the Oaks Day showdown is now non-essential and Stokes is in with talks with connections to see whether they will race on twice in as many weeks.
The other option is to scratch them from the Guineas and save Hucklebuck for their shot at the older horses in the Stradbroke on June 7.
“He’s got a run in the Stradbroke so do we run on Saturday and hope we get in [from the wide draw], or just scratch him and go to the Stradbroke? I’m still thinking about that,” Stokes said.
“We’re happy with the horse.
“He’s done well since his first-up run and his second-up record is very good.”
The up-and-comer has already been tested at elite level when eighth, beaten two and a half lengths, behind Cox Plate hero Shamus Award in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m) at the start of March.
The Straddie though will be a tougher assignment, but they currently pay $7.50 as one of the top four chances in Stradbroke Handicap betting led by the Gary Portelli-trained Rebel Dane ($5.50) and flying young filly Srikandi ($5.50).
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