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November’s Railway Stakes 2016 in Perth is the long-term target for Wez Hunter’s latest stable acquisition Hooked this spring – summer racing carnival season.
Formerly prepared by Sydney’s John Thompson, Casino Prince stallion Hooked has joined the Mornington stables of Victorian horseman Hunter.
A rising six-year-old, to date the Ultra Racing-owned Hooked has won five of his 31 career starts, but he hasn’t been first past the post since last September’s Group 2 Tramway Stakes (1400m) nearly a year ago.
His subsequent five runs have all been disappointing unplaced efforts including four in Group 1 company.
Hooked was last seen racing in Brisbane’s Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 11 where he could only manage to cross a distant 13th, 12 lengths off the winner Under The Louvre.
Hunter is hoping to reinvigorate the galloper this coming spring with the ultimate aim of a Group 1 win to increase his value at stud.
“He’s had a couple of weeks pre-training and looks a million dollars,” Hunter told Racing Victoria.
“He’s a really nice horse I just want to bring him along and get him down the beach as much as possible.”
Part of the plan will be a trip west to Ascot Racecourse in November for a shot at the $1 million Group 1 Railway Stakes (1600m), a race connections could be keen to target during the lucrative Perth Summer Racing Carnival.
“I haven’t spoken to (owner) Sean (Buckley) about options for him but looking at mile races over the spring,” Hunter said.
“The ultimate goal is a Group 1 to enhance his stud value and I think the owner is keen to take him to Perth for the Railway (Stakes).
“This is the first horse I’ve had for him and he’s a great pickup.”
Before that Hooked is to enjoy a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival campaign with his new trainer with Hunter saying a mile looked to be the horse’s best distance.
In 2014 Hooked enjoyed a string of good runs over the 1600m finishing third to He’s Your Man in Randwick’s Group 1 Epsom Handicap, winning the Group 2 Crystal Mile and Moonee Valley and finishing a brave fifth in Flemington’s Group 1 Emirates Stakes.
He also ran in last year’s Epsom Handicap and Crystal Mile, but finished a flat 11th in both races.
A shot at atonement in this season’s $200,000 Crystal Mile on Cox Plate Day, October 22, could be on the cards.
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