Trainer Wez Hunter is confident the conditions of the 2016 Bletchingly Stakes (1200m) at Caulfield on Saturday will prove ideal for resuming veteran Smokin’ Joey.
Smokin’ Joey produced a particularly slick effort to take out the 2015 edition of the Bletchingly Stakes, but has gone amiss since that performance after being bitten by a spider during the subsequent Spring Carnival and taking a long time to recover.
Hunter has been thrilled with the form displayed by his stable star since his return to work this time and is confident he will prove tough to beat in his defence of the Bletchingly Stakes this weekend.
“I’m confident we’ve got him back to his best so if that’s good enough,” Hunter told Racing Ahead.
“In the spring he was bitten by a spider and his leg blew up pretty badly. It just took a long time for us to get him back right and I don’t thing we had him right at all in the spring and even in the autumn.
“This time around he’s just back to himself. When he’s right, he’ll let you know. For a rising nine-year-old he’s pretty active.
“He came off the track this morning like he was a three-year-old, so I’m really happy with him.”
Smokin’ Joey will jump from barrier 4 in the Bletchingly Stakes, but Hunter confirmed he will instruct jockey Michael Walker to take a position off pace before looking to sweep home outside the field in the straight.
“All his best runs are when he’s out wide and building momentum. He doesn’t really appreciate being in amongst them,” Hunter said.
“When he’s the one outside sweeping is when he runs his best races. I don’t care who he’s on the back of, as long as Lord Of The Sky and the others roll along he’ll get his chance.
“If he runs well tomorrow he’ll go towards the PB Lawrence and it’s just a matter of assessing each run as we go, but there’s heaps of options for him.”
A Group 1 winner having taken out the 2014 edition of The Goodwood (1200m), Smokin’ Joey has posted nine wins and a further eight minors through fifty-nine starts, since debuting for Lee Freedman in 2010.
Ladbrokes.com.au is currently offering the best 2016 Bletchingly Stakes odds, for which Smokin’ Joey can be taken at a quote of $17 for success, or $4.40 to finish in the first three.