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Instructions to Victorian jockey Ben Melham in Saturday’s Kingston Town Classic 2014 will be to ride Smokin’ Joey cold according to trainer Wez Hunter.
Mornington-based Hunter had his Encosta De Lago seven-year-old ridden quite positively at Ascot Racecourse last time out when on November 22 Melham guided him to a close fourth behind local mare Elite Belle.
He was up on the speed that day in the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m) and beaten only three-quarters of a length by the Grant Williams-trained winner.
Third over the line in the Railway meanwhile was the fast-finishing Chris Waller-trained Sydney raider Moriarty.
Imported Clodovil gelding Moriarty was off the pace with Nash Rawiller giving him a patient ride from a horror barrier 15 of 16 draw before slashing home late to finish just outside the top two.
Hunter is now instructing Melham to follow Rawiller’s Railway Stakes style for the rematch this weekend in the $500,000 Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) that brings an end to Group 1 racing for 2014.
The Kingston Town will be a notable distance test for Smokin’ Joey who hasn’t been out over further than a mile in four years, and the adjusted technique will hopefully help him get his first 1800m win on the weekend.
“We usually get out and get rolling on him at the 600 (metres), but we’ll be sitting until the 400 (metres) this week,” Hunter told the Racing Network on Monday.
“We just want to try to get him to run it out.
“We’re just going to cuddle him up. When he won The Goodwood he didn’t get out until after straightening then he got to the outside and let down really well.
“We’ll switch him off early and give him every chance to run the 1800 metres.”
Smokin’ Joey hasn’t been in the winner’s stall since May when he scored an upset win as a 40-1 outsider in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville with Melham in the saddle, but is fit and ready to win another elite level according to his trainer.
“He’s fit, he’s well. I think if he’s going to run it out he will on a nice firm track here on Saturday,” Hunter added.
Current Kingston Town Classic odds at Ladbrokes.com.au are led by Moriarty at $4.60, to be ridden by champion Hong Kong-based hoop Douglas Whyte, who Hunter says is the horse to beat.
“Moriarty is obviously the one to beat, but I think my horse will run very well,” he said.
He’s followed in Kingston Town Classic betting by his last start Railway Stakes conqueror Elite Belle ($5) and runner-up in that lead-up race Balmont Girl ($7).
Smokin’ Joey, who will work on Tuesday and Wednesday on the grass in the lead-up to his weekend assignment, can be found a little further down the markets at a generous price of $17.
“He had a gallop on the grass here on Saturday and worked well and he’ll do the same tomorrow,” Hunter said
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