Trainer Wez Hunter has revealed that Group 1 winner Smokin’ Joey is set to make his next appearance at the races in the 2015 Carlyon Cup at Caulfield on February 14.
Smokin’ Joey was given only three weeks in the spelling paddock after he finished a credible fourth in the Group 1 Kingston Town Classic (1800m) at Ascot on December 6 and he returned to the races with a fast-finishing fourth behind Mourinho in the Group 2 Australia Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley on January 24.
Hunter told Racing Ahead that Smokin’ Joey had taken plenty of benefit from only being given a short stint in the spelling paddock and he was thrilled with the way that the Encosta De Lago gelding came through his first-up run.
“He is really well,” Hunter said.
“I think the key with him is that he never had the chance to let down in the paddock, he only had three weeks off, and he never got unfit and he never lost that much muscle tone and I think that really helps him.
“He has really bounced back after that first-up run and I am pretty happy with him.”
The Group 1 Orr Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield next Saturday was originally on the agenda for Smokin’ Joey, but Hunter is now leaning towards stepping the seven-year-old up to 1600 metres for the Group 3 Carlyon Cup (1600m) at the same meeting.
Smokin’ Joey won the 2014 edition of the Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) at Morphettville over 1200 metres and he was far from outpaced in the Australia Stakes, but Hunter believes that the gelding may struggle to make up ground over 1400 metres in the Orr Stakes.
“On-speed horses around Caulfield over seven furlongs are pretty hard to catch and I am leaning a little bit towards the mile, but we will just wait and see,” Hunter said.
Smokin’ Joey has not had a race start at Caulfield since he finished fifth in the Group 3 Moonga Stakes (1400m) on October 18 and he has not recorded a race win at Caulfield since he won the Listed Blue Sapphire Stakes (1200m) on debut in 2010, while under the care of Lee Freedman.
The gelding has also been included in the nominations for the Group 1 Australian Cup (2000m), but Hunter remains unsure whether Smokin’ Joey is capable of running out a strong 2000 metres.