Confirmed amongst a capacity field of 16 for Saturday’s Flemington feature, trainer Phillip Stokes has revealed classy miler Hucklebuck is in peak condition leading into the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) and is confident a maiden victory at the highest level of Australian racing in more than within his means this weekend.
Securing a commendable race record of seven wins and two minor places from just 12 competitive starts so far, Hucklebuck has returned to racing in typically scintillating form this time in; comfortably taking out the Listed Durbridge Stakes (1200m) first-up before repeating the dose in the Group 3 Yellowglen Stakes (1400m) last time out on November 1st.
While leaving just one week between runs for the Elvstroem gelding, Stokes is confident the four-year-old has progressed well and is sure to be offered a good racing line from the ideal barrier 5 in the 2014 Emirates Stakes.
“He has come through his run last Saturday well,” Stokes told AAP.
“The back-up is not ideal but he can get a bit keen in his races and I’m hoping that it will take a bit of the freshness out of him and get him to relax.
“He needs all the stars to align and I think he gets that chance on Saturday.”
Partnered by Dom Tourneur in all but two of his competitive race starts so far, the leading South Australian jockey said he is confident last weekend’s performance will play a key role in Emirates Stakes success for Hucklebuck on Saturday.
“If he raced genuinely and he switched off from the beginning, I genuinely think he’s a miler,” Tourneur said.
“He just gives me that feel.”
Undoubtedly returning to racing in career-best form this year, Hucklebuck won each of the Dominant Handicap (1200m) and Group 3 CS Hayes Stakes (1400m) at the beginning of autumn before being forced into the paddock with a minor tendon issue after finishing eighth in the Group 1 Australian Guineas (1600m).
Returning for a brief Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival cameo highlighted by a credible performance for sixth in the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m), Hucklebuck has competed over a mile just twice in his racing career so far, having finished second to Paximadia in the Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes in November 2013, prior to this year’s Australian Guineas.
While yet to receive much more than a sprinkling of bets for success, Hucklebuck is currently featured as sole occupant of the third line of Emirates Stakes betting at a quote of $7 with leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.