Wez Hunter has been understandably thrilled with the results posted by Smokin’ Joey through a standout 2015 campaign so far, and is confident the popular gelding is forward enough for continued success in Saturday’s featured Group 2 PB Lawrence Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield.
Smokin’ Joey posted several impressive results through the recent Autumn Carnival, but has arguably been most impressive in his two most recent starts; taking out the Listed Eye Liner Stakes (1350m) at Ipswich on June 13th before returning for a resounding two length win in the Group 3 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on July 25th.
Hunter is thrilled with the condition gained by the son of Encosta De Lago since his Bletchingly Stakes return and believes the pace likely-to-be injected into the PB Lawrence Stakes by The Cleaner could play to the eight-year-old’s favour.
“I think he’s gone forward, so I’m happy,” Hunter told Racing Ahead.
“I was a little bit surprised how easy he did it because he only had one gallop in five weeks so I thought he might be a little bit vulnerable but he never looked like being beaten.
“There should be good speed with Mick’s (Burles) horse (The Cleaner) in there, so I can imagine he’ll be back half of the field and outside; sweeping home hopefully like he did last time.
“If you were first-up it can really rip the guts out of them chasing for so long but I think the good thing for our bloke is he hasn’t had a big break and has that residual fitness.”
Hunter is yet to set a specific target for Smokin’ Joey beyond the PB Lawrence, but confirmed a step-up in distance may still come to fruition this season.
“We’ll just see how he goes, how he comes through it and then probably to the Memsie in a fortnight or maybe even step up in trip, we’ll just wait and see,” Hunter added.
Securing nine wins and a further eight minors through 53 competitive starts so far, Smokin’ Joey returned this year for a credible fourth in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) in January; progressing to success in the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) before running a close second to Suavito in the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) most notably on February 28th.
The best 2015 PB Lawrence Stakes odds are currently available with leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au, and Smokin’ Joey remains outright $3.50 favourite for success.