Hooked fought off Charmed Harmony in the final stages to take out the 2017 Victoria Handicap at Caulfield this afternoon.
There was plenty of speed in the early stages of the Victoria Handicap and Luke Nolen made the decision to settle Hooked just behind the speed.
Hooked looked as though he would cruise past Charmed Harmony when he was asked for extra effort, but Charmed Harmony was in for the fight and Hooked required the entire straight to get past his rival.
Nolen timed his run to perfection in the Victoria Handicap, but he was quick to praise the toughness of the Group 1 placegetter in the final stages of the race.
“We drew favourably as he has plenty of gate speed and we found our spot comfortably,” Nolen said.
“We blended into the race on straightening and he proved too strong.
“He is very honest and throughout his career he has been placed at the highest level and he is well-placed in this grade.”
Trainer Robert Smerdon was quick to pay credit to the ride of Nolen and he was delighted that their pre-race plan had come to fruition.
“He had the barrier, he had the run and there was always going to be the speed and pressure up front.
“He was the beneficiary of that as he was able to get the cart along and he was able to present at the exact right time.
“It went exactly as it looked to my eye on paper and it really did pan out.
“When he came to the outside in the straight I looked behind as I thought that was where any danger would be, but Charmed Harmony was brave and he is hard to get past.
“There is a Group 2 race over 1600 metres in Adelaide in two weeks the Gerard Stakes (RA Lee Stakes) – and he will probably head there.
“He won the Crystal Mile and he can lead at a mile and be very strong over the trip.”
Charmed Harmony returned to his best form with a very brave second, while the pre-race favourite Hellova Street was one of the first horses beaten.