Group 1 winner Smokin’ Joey is set to kick off his Melbourne Autumn Racing Carnival campaign this Saturday in the Australia Stakes 2015 at Moonee Valley looking to break a lengthy winning drought.
The Wez Hunter-trained seven-year-old son of Encosta De Lago hasn’t won a race since his upset as a 40-1 shot in the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) in Adelaide back in May last year.
Since then his best form was late last year during a raid on the Perth Summer Racing Carnival.
There at Ascot he had two Group 1 runs for two fourth place finishes.
The first was in November when only a length off local mare Elite Belle in the Railway Stakes over a mile then a fortnight later he crossed two and a half off Chris Waller’s Sydney raider Moriarty in the Kingston Town Classic over 1800m.
Sent for a freshen-up after that he’s set to return to racing on Saturday in Melbourne’s $200,000 Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley Racecourse, a race won 12 months ago by the Paul Beshara-trained Richie’s Vibe.
It will be Smokin’ Joey’s first run at the track since New Year’s Eve back in 2011 when he resumed, under previous trainer Anthony Freedman, to finish second in a 1200m handicap.
His only other Moonee Valley run was a disappointing 11th behind Rekindled Interest in the Group 2 AAMI Vase (2040m) in the spring of 2010.
During his time in Western Australia Smokin’ Joey was ridden by his regular hoop from Melbourne Ben Melham.
For Saturday’s Australia Stakes however Hunter said young Perth-based apprentice Chris Parnham was on standby for the ride.
Melham meanwhile is likely to ride Peter Moody’s multiple Group 1 winner Dissident who he partnered for his past four starts during the spring including the Group 1 Memsie Stakes – Makybe Diva Stakes double.
Four-year-old Sebring stallion Dissident hasn’t raced since a bleeding attack suffered during his sixth to Fawkner in the Group 1 Caulfield Stakes on October 11.
If he doesn’t accept for Saturday’s Australia Stakes, another first-up option for the galloper will be in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield on February 14.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for the Australia Stakes 2015 nominations to be released shortly.
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