Epsom Handicap 2015 bound stallion Hooked surprised even his trainer John Thompson running out of his skin in an impressive all-the-way effort to take out the Tramway Stakes at Royal Randwick on Chelmsford Stakes Day.
Thompson said pre-race the widely-drawn Casino Prince stallion would run a cheeky race in the $175,000 Group 2 Tattersalls Club Stakes (1400m), but even he wasn’t confident the five-year-old could win.
Jockey Tye Angland was though and it was his very smart and tactical ride from up front setting the pace that saw Hooked enjoy the first-up win, his fifth turf triumph at start number 26.
Hooked had had nine previous runs at Randwick Racecourse without a winning performance, but Angland ensured that changed in the Tramway taking the horse into the lead from the extreme outside barrier right after the jump.
From there he controlled the speed throughout, reading the tactics and the track to lead from the likes of the well-fancied mare Arabian Gold and former top youngster Sweynesse from the Godolphin stable.
At the top of the straight Hooked ($9), who hadn’t won a race since the Group 2 Crystal Mile (1600m) at Moonee Valley last Cox Plate Day in Melbourne, had the challengers coming.
He kicked away though and didn’t stop giving all the way to the line where he had a half-length to spare over the Gai Waterhouse-trained six-year-old Ecuador ($11) who enjoyed a good run throughout just off the speed on the inside.
Finishing off the Tramway Stakes trifecta just a neck further back for an excellent third was Helen Page’s Queensland visitor Rudy ($13) who did extremely well to make up ground in a race that wasn’t run to suit the backmarkers.
Also catching the eye with top late efforts in a race that wasn’t run to suit were two classy mares in the John Sargent-trained Kirramosa (5th) and Kris Lees’ multiple Group 1 winner Lucia Valentina (6th) who were both beaten only one and a half lengths.
Hooked is now set to continue down the Sydney Spring Racing Carnival path into the $1 million Group 1 Epsom Handicap (1600m) back at Randwick on October 3, a race Rudy could also be in the mix for after his nice third behind the too-strong winner.
“He’s come back very well and he’s back to his old self,” Thompson said of Hooked post-win.
“I thought he’d run a cheeky race, but I didn’t think he’d win.
“He’s run out of his skin.
“He dug in and he’s in a good frame of mind.
“He’s up to that class, he’s a Group 2 horse all day, he just needs to take that next step now and we’ll try to get a Group 1.
“We’ll talk it over with the owners but the he’s going well and that’s the main thing.”
Thompson is a protégé of the late, great Bart Cummings who passed away last Sunday aged 87, and while he is yet to win an Epsom Handicap the ‘Cup’s King’ enjoyed wins with Allez Suez (199) and Cool River (1983) in more recent years.
“There’s plenty of Bart in that horse, have a look at him, he’s got the Cummings’ glow,” Thompson added.
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2015 Tramway Stakes Results & Finishing Order
Randwick Race 7 – 05/09/2015
|1||5||HOOKED||John P Thompson||Tye Angland||–||14||57kg||$9|
|2||14||ECUADOR (NZ)||Gai Waterhouse||Jason Collett||0.5L||5||55kg||$11|
|3||6||RUDY||Helen Page||Kerrin McEvoy||0.7L||12||57kg||$13|
|4||13||ARABIAN GOLD||Gai Waterhouse||Blake Shinn||1.3L||13||55kg||$4.20F|
|5||12||KIRRAMOSA (NZ)||John Sargent||Rory Hutchings (a)||1.4L||7||56kg||$41|
|6||3||LUCIA VALENTINA (NZ)||Kris Lees||Brenton Avdulla||1.6L||10||57kg||$10|
|7||11||IT’S SOMEWHAT (USA)||John O’Shea||Glen Boss||2.3L||9||56kg||$8|
|8||15||GYPSY DIAMOND||Peter & Paul Snowden||Tommy Berry||2.6L||4||55kg||$26|
|9||8||SWEYNESSE||John O’Shea||James McDonald||3.2L||11||56.5kg||$9|
|10||16||HAURAKI||John O’Shea||Sam Clipperton||4.2L||6||57kg||$11|
|11||18||SENSE OF OCCASION||Joseph Pride||Tim Clark||4.3L||1||55kg||$41|
|12||7||FLAMINGO STAR (GER)||Chris Waller||Hugh Bowman||4.5L||3||56.5kg||$7.50|
|13||1||PROTECTIONIST (GER)||Kris Lees||Christian Reith||4.7L||8||58kg||$26|
|14||17||MALICE||John O’Shea||Thomas Huet||7.6L||2||55kg||$41|
|–||9||FIRST SEAL||John P Thompson||Tommy Berry||–||0||–||–|
|–||2||FAMOUS SEAMUS (NZ)||Noel Mayfield-Smith||Glyn Schofield||–||0||–||–|
|–||10||STRAWBERRY BOY||Chris Waller||Jim Cassidy||–||0||–||–|
|–||4||MESSENE||Michael, Wayne & John Hawkes||Jay Ford||–||0||–||–|