Trainer Wez Hunter is confident that veteran gelding Smokin’ Joey is in the right condition to successfully defend his title, when he returns to racing in the 2016 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on July 30th.
Smokin’ Joey has undoubtedly been the stable start for Hunter since his arrival at the Mornington operation in 2013; peaking with an impressive maiden win at the highest level in the 2014 edition of the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m).
Having returned to impressive form in the early stages of 2015, including his win in the Bletchingly Stakes, Hunter told Racing Ahead the son of Encosta De Lago has returned to full health an condition following a strong of unfortunate ailments, and is confident he is ready for first-up success at Caulfield.
“The old fella is up and he’s ready to run in the Bletchingly and try to defend his title next week,” Hunter said.
“He had a jump-out this morning, Chris Parnham rode him over 900m at Mornington and he was glowing with his trial and report.
“Fingers crossed, but I think I’ve got him back.
“In the spring (2015) he got bitten by a spider and his who near-side leg blew up like a tree trunk and just took a long time to get right. That can end pretty poorly, so we were lucky to get him back.
“I wasn’t convinced he was the same horse in the autumn, we gave him a break after The Goodwood and he’s really turned a corner and is back to his normal self now.
“He can go to the Bletchingly again and run well. He’s doing all the things he does when he’s feeling pretty good, so he’ll have a pretty quiet week and we’ll go in fresh and well.”
Smokin’ Joey has been a strong performer throughout his entire fifty-nine start career so far; posting nine wins and a further eight minors since debuting in 2010.
The 2016 Bletchingly Stakes field and barrier draw is due to be completed and released by midday Wednesday, July 27th.
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