Co-trainer Tony McEvoy believes the stable’s runner in Friday night’s Group 2 $200,000 Australia Stakes (1200m) Hey Doc will take the power of beating when the three-time Group 1 winner lines-up as the favourite at The Valley.
The Duporth six-year-old is one of eight remaining runners in this season’s Australia Stakes field and has the benefit of barrier one with Luke Currie, the event’s 2013 winning hoop aboard Sea Lord, booked for the ride.
After nearly a year on the sidelines, Hey Doc resumed racing last November running a close first-up third in the Group 3 Kevin Heffernan Stakes (1300m) at Sandown.
His third elite level success followed in Perth a fortnight later with the noted front runner overcoming barrier 13 of 14 to win the Group 1 $1 million Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) by nearly two and a half lengths.
Kept fresh since, he is back under the lights on Australia Stakes Night chasing a fourth win from five starts at The Valley where he won the Group 1 Manikato Stakes (1200m) back in 2017.
The bookies are taking no chances with Hey Doc who sits top of the latest Australia Stakes odds at Ladbrokes.com.au paying $2.45 to continue the run of single-figure winners in the weight-for-age showdown.
McEvoy is full of pre-race confidence in Hey Doc believing the horse is the deserving favourite who will have no issues should any of his rivals chose to battle him for the lead during the run.
“Our horse has won an Australian Guineas sitting in the box (seat) and he’s won a Manikato leading,” McEvoy told RSN.
“So, they will know we will be riding our horse normally.
“If they want to take us on, then I wish them well.
“Around The Valley which he loves, drawn the poll (barrier one), he will take a lot of beating.”
Looking ahead, McEvoy has an eye on Caulfield’s Group 1 C.F. Orr Stakes (1400m) on February 8 as a potential final Aussie lead-up for Hey Doc before the horse heads to Dubai for the World Cup Carnival targeting the Al Quoz Sprint (1200m).
Hey Doc is joined in the diminutive Australia Stakes field by stablemate Manuel a $20 outsider in Australia Stakes betting.
A six-year-old son of Commands, Manuel is out to atone for his last (13th) in the Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1200m) in Brisbane back in May and holds a nomination for the $5 million The All-Star Mile (1600m) at Caulfield in March.
The danger according to the markets at $4 is the Lindsey Smith-trained seven-year-old Scales Of Justice in gate two.
Scales Of Justice celebrated his second Group 1 win three years after his first in the 2016 Railway Stakes when first past the post in last August’s Group 1 Memsie Stakes (1400m).
His only run since was a fifth when just two lengths of the winner Gatting in the Group 1 Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington in September.
Friday has the veteran racing at Moonee Valley for the first time, Scales Of Justice one of the other early speedsters who could fight Hey Doc for the lead.
Likely to rally early from the outside barrier (8) is the returning Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes winner Begood Toya Mother who has work to do first-up carrying 58.5kg after carting just 52kg for the Group 1 win last time out.
“I’ll show my intent early,” Begood Toya Mother’s jockey James Winks told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“My bloke, he’s a pretty positive animal and he likes to do his own thing, you can’t fight him too much.
“I actually tried to drop him in behind them the other day in the trial and he resented it a bit but then once I let him stride, he was more comfortable.
“I’ll ride to lead. If I didn’t and Hey Doc kicked up and he went at a good clip, then I’m happy to take a sit on him, but if he’s going to try and dictate and go steady, it’s not going to suit my horse.
“His attributes are he can run quick sectionals and kick off a bend so I’m not going to take that away from him.
“If that means me putting the pressure on and try and break Hey Doc a little bit, then so be it.
“That’s the way my horse has got to be ridden.”
Godolphin’s returning ATC Sires’ Produce winning Exceed And Excel colt Microphone ($5) is the other best in Australia Stakes betting this season.
The Australia Stakes runs as Moonee Valley Race 7 at 9:30pm (local time) on the Friday night race card.
2020 Australia Stakes Field
|#||Form (Last 10)||Horse||Trainer||Jockey||Barrier||Weight||Hcp. Rating|
|1||01x7x58x31||HEY DOC||Tony & Calvin McEvoy||Luke Currie||1||58.5kg||113|
|2||0x53x1215x||SCALES OF JUSTICE||Lindsey Smith||Dean Yendall||2||58.5kg||113|
|3||1x7158250x||MANUEL||Tony & Calvin McEvoy||Barend Vorster||4||58.5kg||109|
|4||11111x161x||BEGOOD TOYA MOTHER||Daniel Bowman||James Winks||9||58.5kg||107|
|5||174x4560x6||ASHLOR||Dan McCarthy||Daniel Stackhouse||6||58.5kg||94|
|6||3047100x6x||RINGERDINGDING||Anthony Freedman||John Allen||3||58.5kg||98|
|7||12x85403x7||CRADLE MOUNTAIN||Clare Cunningham||Jason Collett||8||58.5kg||90|
|8||317x4498x3||EMBRACE ME (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Damien Oliver||7||56.5kg||88|
|9||121121x3x||MICROPHONE||James Cummings||Damian Lane||5||55kg||105|