Jockey Ben Melham has revealed he is not all-together confident in-form sprinter Smokin’ Joey will perform to a high standard from barrier 3 in this weekend’s featured Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) at Eagle Farm.
Charging home down the outside to win the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at South Australia’s Morphettville Racecourse, Smokin’ Joey is a noted performer when leaving from outside barriers; not enjoying running when caught inside competitors.
Partnering the Encosta De Lago gelding to his sole victory at the highest level of Australia racing last time out, Melham told AAP he is hoping for a fast tempo early to play into the strengths of Smokin’ Joey on Saturday.
“I would have preferred him to draw off the track because he’s a horse that resents horses being outside him,” Melham said.
“I have probably got no other option but to go back and we’re going to be last probably.
“He just turns it up in amongst them and won’t go at all. I think that is our only option unfortunately we’re left with, and get him to the outside.
“The only thing in our favour is the Stradbroke is always a high-pressure race and hopefully they can break themselves up front early and give us every chance to get over the top of them.”
Claiming a total of six victories and seven minor places from 38 competitive race starts to date, Smokin’ Joey was a standout performer over the 2013 spring carnival; strolling home to win the Group 3 TAB.com.au Stakes (1400m) before almost causing the season’s biggest upset when finishing a short nose behind talented miler Boban in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) on November 9th.
Steadily building to the task this time in, the six-year-old out of Dalzing overcame disappointing starts in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) and Listed Super Saturday Stakes (1400m) with a fighting sixth amongst classy company in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) prior his Goodwood triumph.
Charged with carrying just 55kgs in the 2014 Stradbroke Handicap, Smokin’ Joey is currently offered at generous $17 odds for success, or $4.40 to run a place.
Aiming for her sixth consecutive race win, Srikandi has opened as and maintained favouritism in betting markets, currently offered at even $5 odds, ahead of Hucklebuck ($5.50), Spirit Of Boom ($7.50) and Rebel Dane ($8.50).
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