Australian Guineas winner Hey Doc will be a Winx lookalike when he wears ear muffs for the first time in the Group 1 $750,000 PFD Food Services Makybe Diva Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on Saturday.
Hey Doc has had two runs in his 2017 Spring Carnival campaign for a first up win in the Group 3 $150,000 Aurie’s Star Handicap (1200m) at Flemington on August 12 followed by a fourth to Vega Magic in the Group 1 $1m New Zealand Bloodstock Memsie Stakes (1400m) at Caulfield three weeks later.
Trainer Tony McEvoy said that Hey Doc had trouble settling in behind the leaders in a moderately run Memsie Stakes and is hoping the addition of the ear muffs will help the Duporth four year old relax better in the Makybe Diva Stakes.
Leading Sydney trained Chris Waller opted to race Winx in the ear muffs in Group 2 $250,000 Tattersalls Club Chelmsford Stakes (1600m) at Randwick after the champion mare blew the start at her previous outing in the Group 2 $250,000 Warwick Stakes (1400m) at Randwick.
Winx went on to win the Chelmsford Stakes with the ear muffs on, notching up her nineteenth consecutive win.
“The thing that I’ve always wanted him to do better was to relax a bit more in his races,” McEvoy told AAP.
“In the Memsie when the natural leader (Charmed Harmony) was taken out and they went at a steady tempo, it showed he didn’t want a change in tempo.
“If you’re going to be a weight-for-age horse you’ve got to have the ability to adapt and change, so I’m hoping the ear muffs will help him.”
“There’s been some really good results with them (ear muffs) and I thought it was time for him to try them. He’s accepted them very well (in trackwork).”
Hey Doc also has to overcome the outside barrier in the twelve horse Makybe Diva Stakes field but McEvoy is leaving jockey Luke Currie to sort out that problem.
“I didn’t like the barrier,” McEvoy said.
“Our main aim is to get the horse relaxed in the race and how Luke elects to do that is going to be his decision.
“The horse is as good as he can be and if Luke is as good as he can be, hopefully they’ll work it out.”
Hey Doc will be returning to Flemington, the scene of his biggest win in the Group 1 $750,000 Australian Guineas over the same course and distance as the Makybe Diva Stakes.
Hey Doc is rated a $13 chance for the Makybe Diva Stakes at Ladbrokes.com.au on Thursday afternoon while the James Cummings trained Hartnell is dominating the top of the market order at $1.75 with Black Heart Bart the second pick at $6.