Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn is looking...
Any rain around in Brisbane this weekend will work in favour of the Robert Smerdon-trained Hooked who runs in the 2017 Stradbroke Handicap looking to atone for an unplaced run in the race last winter.
Smerdon is currently sweating on a start for his smart three-year-old Oak Door in the $1.5 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1350m) field this weekend, but also has a confirmed runner in Hooked.
In-form Casino Prince stallion Hooked is ninth on the latest Stradbroke Handicap order of entry, the race contested at Doomben Racecourse this year due to the unsuitable racing surface at Eagle Farm.
Last Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival Hooked contested the Group 1 over 1400m at the Farm but only managed to run a distant 13th as a $31 outsider behind stablemate Under The Louvre.
The dual Group 1 placegetter returns for a second shot and is at Doomben for the first time since his seventh to Music Magnate in last year’s Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m).
Since then the six-year-old posted his first victory since September of 2015 breaking the drought at Caulfield on April 15 with a narrow success over Charmed Harmony in the Group 3 Victoria Handicap (1400m) under 57kg.
His latest run was in Adelaide on May 20 where Hooked finished a close second behind Burning Front in the Group 3 RA Lee Stakes (1600m).
Burning Front is one of three possible Darren Weir-trained runners in the Stradbroke Handicap field this year and comes back from 57.5kg in the RA Lee Stakes to 53kg on the weekend.
Hooked also drops notably in weight getting into the Stradbroke on just 52.5kg, which will be the lightest he’s raced at since a failed Doncaster Mile bid in April of 2015.
Smerdon is confident the step back in distance will help Hooked on Saturday and also tipped him to relish any rain falling on the course between now and jump time.
“Again I think he’s a better 1400-metre horse,” Smerdon told Just Horse Racing.
“And if it happened to rain, all the better. He loves it.”
Having prepared last year’s Stradbroke Handicap winner Under The Louvre, Smerdon chases back-to-back wins in the race as a trainer for the first time since the Con Karakatsanis-trained Black Piranha won successive editions in 2009-10.
Noel Callow stood down from his Moonee Valley rides on Saturday and Ballarat on Sunday in order to ride in Brisbane and is booked to partner Hooked in the Stradbroke Handicap.
It will be the hoop’s first time on the horse and his maiden ride in a Stradbroke Handicap field.
Hooked has been in Queensland since last week and currently pays $26 in pre-field Stradbroke Handicap odds at Ladbrokes.com.au.
Check out the full Stradbroke Handicap 2017 betting odds and options online now at Ladbrokes.com.au.
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