Trainer Tony McEvoy has been thrilled with the continually-building condition of Stoker since a first-up run for sixth in the Listed Lightning Stakes (1050m) on July 25th, and is confident the three-year-old is ready for a return to the winner’s circle in Saturday’s Group 3 Vain Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield.
Stoker more than stamped his claims as one to watch through an impressive debut preparation during the recent Autumn Carnival; returning to the paddock after boxing on for a credible seventh following a disappointing start in the Group 1 Blue Diamond Stakes (1200m) on February 28th.
Confident the conditions of Saturday’s 2015 Vain Stakes will suit the horse to the ground, McEvoy told Racing Ahead he was pleased with the way Stoker savaged the line in the Lightning Stakes following a completely luckless run in transit.
“Very pleased. I think he’s going as good as he has ever gone with me,” McEvoy said.
“He dropped at the start and just got too far back, and the horse young Shaun elected to follow then just came back a little bit more and put him another two lengths further back and his race was done by the time they reached the turn.
“His closing section was as good as the winner’s, he ran sixth finishing strongly. I thought it was a very good performance and it’s really brought him on.”
McEvoy is yet to set a specific path for Stoker this time in, but revealed he will allow early races and results to dictate which of the Group 1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) or Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes (1200m) will figure as the major target.
“Interesting horse this fellow and I’m going to be learning a lot about him,” he said.
“He’s a Written Tycoon and I’ve just got to figure out if he’s a Guineas horse or if he’s a sprinter, so those are the questions I’m going to be asking of him this spring.
“We’ll kick off in the Vain Stakes and then we can look at the McNeil and then we decide whether we go to the Henry Bucks or the Danehill.
“If he’s the horse I think he is, I think he’ll handle himself very well.”
Debuting for a close second behind Headwater in the Cactus Imaging Plate (1000m) at Moonee Valley in late December, Stoker placed third in the James Boag’s Premium Plate (1000m) before breaking through for a maiden win in the $250,000 Inglis Premier (1000m), in what was his only other start prior to the Blue Diamond Stakes on February 7th.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2015 Vain Stakes odds, for which Stoker can be taken at a particularly generous quote of $10 for success.