Purchased by Sean Buckley at the recent Patinack Farm dispersal sale, trainer John Thompson is confident classy miler Hooked is more than a chance of breaking through for a maiden victory at the highest level of Australian racing in Saturday’s featured Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington.
Returning to racing in undoubtable career-best form through the 2014 Spring Racing Carnival, Hooked was given little hope of success in Sydney’s premier spring mile event; the Group 1 Epsom Handicap on October 4th, but displayed an exceptional turn of foot in the final straight to finish third.
Having progressed to a strong race win in the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley last time out on October 25th, Thompson has been thrilled with the work completed and form displayed by the Casino Prince entire in the lead-up to Saturday’s Flemington feature and is expecting Cox Plate contestant The Cleaner to tow Hooked into contention.
“It is going to be set up with The Cleaner running along, and whether … he sets it up late for the backmarkers to swoop at Flemington, I’m not sure,” Thompson told Fairfax.
“Our horse is at the top of his game … He seems to be going into this run as good as his last.
“At Flemington he’s been working well and he’s nice and fit. He probably doesn’t have to do a great deal and we just have to keep him ticking over.
“He looks fantastic and we’ve been taking him down to the beach to keep him happy. He’s bright, he looks fantastic in the coat, his blood count is good and everything is going well.
“He is going well and is a top chance in a Group 1. He ran well in the Epsom and from a good gate this time hopefully we can go a couple of places better.”
Claiming four wins and a further two minor places from his 20 competitive appearances on course so far, Hooked more than stamped himself as a serious black type contender over the 2014 Autumn Carnival; running a credible fifth in each of the Group 1 Randwick Guineas (1600m) and Group 1 Rosehill Guineas (2000m) before placing a close third in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m).
Allocated the ideal barrier 4 and confirmed to be partnered by Crystal Mile jockey Craig Williams, Hooked is currently available at generous odds of $7.50 for success in the 2014 Emirates Stakes, or $2.60 to finish in the place at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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