Adelaide’s Phillip Stokes describes the previous Group 1 win over a mile by stable star Hucklebuck as “lucky” and will keep the galloper to a short two-race sprint campaign in the spring starting with the 2016 Darley Classic.
Elvstroem gelding Hucklebuck is a multiple Group winner but is best known for his narrow victory over Lucky Hussler at Flemington in November of 2014 in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m).
Since then he has had just five runs highlighted by his third to Suavito at Caulfield this February in the Group 1 CF Orr Stakes (1400m), one behind old foe Lucky Hussler (2nd).
Hucklebuck raced twice more in the autumn after the CF Orr placing.
He only managed to cross eighth in both the Group 1 Futurity Stakes (1400m) and Sydney’s Group 1 George Main Stakes (1500m) when failing to beat home any other runner in the Rosehill feature won by Chris Waller’s champion mare Winx.
The rising six-year-old missed the winter after suffering a setback during the George Main loss.
He won’t race again until the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington on Emirates Stakes Day, November 5, in the $1 million Group 1 Darley Classic (1200m).
“The Darley Classic will be a strong race, but although he hasn’t raced down the straight, I think it will suit him,” Stokes told The Courier Mail this week.
Stokes believes the horse is better suited to races 1400m and under these days and will also run him second-up in the $150,000 Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) at Sandown-Hillside a week after the Darley Classic.
“I think we were lucky to get a Group 1 with him over a mile,” Stokes said.
“I think he’s better suited as a sprinter, especially after the setbacks he’s had.”
Stokes has saddled-up two previous runners in the Darley Classic without success.
The sprint feature has been dominated by Manikato Stakes graduates in recent years with three of the past four Darley Classic winners coming off a lead-up in the Group 1 at Moonee Valley including Buffering (2013) who completed the double.
Last year’s champ was the Chris Waller-trained four-year-old Delectation (2015) who came off a second in a Group 2 at Flemington on Derby Day a week earlier.
The last Darley Classic winner to take out the race first-up without an earlier spring lead-up was super sprinter Takeover Target back in 2004 whose previous start was a win in Grafton’s Listed Ramornie Handicap (1200m) over three months earlier.
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